In the early morning hours of March 16, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral to deliver 8,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. What’s most remarkable isn’t what’s going up, but what’s coming back down?
Like a panel from a sci-fi comic strip of the ’30s (think “Buck Rogers in the 25th century AD”), the first stage of the newest rocket from SpaceX – the stage that has always been used once and then discarded soon after launch, becoming a $100 million piece of scrap metal — will unfold a set of spindly metallic legs as it screams back through the atmosphere and fire a set of retro rockets to halt its descent.
It is like a science fiction movie, with a rocket landing on its tail.
Watch this video of a test flight of the grasshopper where it lifted off to over 700 meters and then safely returned to the launch pad.
A reusable rocket will change everything. They already expect the capsule to be reused also.
Space-X has innovations in place that will lower the cost to $1000 or so per pound without thinking of reusing the rocket.
But if they can reuse the rocket up to 100 times, as they hope, then the costs can drop to $10 a pound.
That is cheaper than overnight delivery. That means that w could get into space for about the same price as a first class ticket across the country.
This changes everything.