SpaceX takes next step towards reusing rockets

Science / Tech

SpaceX takes the next step towards reusable rockets with the test-firing of a previously landed first stage.

We’ve seen them launch rockets, we’ve seen them land parts of rockets both on land, and on a barge in the Atlantic ocean. Now SpaceX is taking the next steps towards actually reusing the first stage of one of their Falcon 9 rockets by test firing a previously landed rocket.

The rocket in question was initially used to transport the JCSAT communications satellite into orbit back in May. The stage landed successfully on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone barge in the Atlantic Ocean, and was recovered for inspection and testing. The JCSAT stage isn’t a candidate to fly again, since it did sustain some damage on its landing, however it is perfect for the test firing that happened last night.

SpaceX put the stage through a full burn of two minutes and thirty seconds. This matches the duration of a standard first stage flight, and gives SpaceX a significant amount of data to review to ensure that other such returned rockets will be safe for re-launching in the future. You can watch a video of the full test firing below:

You can see some variety of cap, or topper on the stage as it is fired. NASA Spaceflights posits that this is likely a weight to simulate the remaining parts of a functional rocket, or possibly more testing instruments to give SpaceX the most complete view of the test firing possible.

The first stage from a more recent mission looks to have the best possibility to re-launch. The first stage from the CRS-9 Dragon launch back in the early morning hours of July 18th should have the first crack at a second trip at least part of the way to outer space.

What do you think about the progress SpaceX has made on reusable rockets? Talk to us down in the comment section below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

  Source: NASA Spaceflight
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