(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — SpaceX has now successfully landed a rocket on a drone ship but the company’s next test will be sending a recycled rocket on another trip to space.
After a cargo re-supply launch to the International Space Station on Friday, the Falcon 9 rocket landed upright on a drone ship parked in relatively calm waters — a stark difference from previous attempts that have resulted in fiery crash landings.
With the rocket back at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX engineers will re-fire the rocket’s engines ten times in a row to determine re-usability, according to the process Musk explained on Friday.
If the rocket is qualified for re-use, Musk said the first relaunch using the same rocket could be as early as June, though the way that he answered suggested that was still up in the air. “We think it will be a paying customer,” Musk said, rather than just a test flight.
In the future, Musk said he hopes the turnaround time for a relaunch would be down to a few weeks.
Onboard view of landing in high winds pic.twitter.com/FedRzjYYyQ
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 9, 2016
Mastering a drone ship landing is necessary when it is “just not physically possible to return to launch site,” Musk previously explained. The drone ship landings are especially needed for “high velocity missions,” which would allow payloads such as satellites to reach a higher orbit, such as geostationary orbits, he said.
SpaceX successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket in December on land after launching a satellite into orbit. Having the ability to recycle rockets is something Musk has said will “revolutionize access to space,” reducing costs by as much as a factor of one hundred, he said.
Despite being in working condition, Musk said he doesn’t have plans to fly the rocket it recycled in December and will instead to keep it on the ground since it’s the first one the company successfully returned.
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