For SpaceX, Falcon 9 reuse is now essential

For SpaceX, Falcon 9 reuse is now essential

On Tuesday, SpaceX will attempt to launch a 3.7-ton Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite for the US Air Force. This GPS III launch is scheduled to occur on a Falcon 9 rocket between 3:55pm ET and 4:10pm ET (19:56-20:10 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch marks the first time that SpaceX will seek to recover a booster used to launch a satellite for the US military. Although the launch was originally contracted to fly on an expendable booster, Space News reports that the US Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center agreed to revise some mission requirements so SpaceX could fly back the booster. In return, the company took “several million dollars” off the price of the launch, which was originally awarded to SpaceX in 2017 for $96.5 million. SpaceX needs this first stage back to help balance out a busy second half of the year. On May 11, 2018, the company launched the first of its new "Block 5" version of its Falcon 9 rocket. This new version of the first stage incorporated all of the company's previous performance upgrades to the Falcon 9 rocket while also maximizing its reuse. It worked—SpaceX has now flown two different Falcon 9 cores five times, and it may fly a first stage for the sixth time later this summer. The success of the Block 5 rocket means that SpaceX has had to devote less time and resources to building Falcon 9 first stages ...
More on: arstechnica.com