NASA to fly a recycled SpaceX rocket for the first time
Since it fired a refurbished Falcon 9 booster into orbit for the first time back in March, SpaceX has slowly been proving its ability to safely fly its retrieved rockets. Now it appears NASA is finally convinced, with the space agency confirming plans to launch an upcoming supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on the back of a Falcon 9 rocket that has visited it once before.
A handful of private companies have already used refurbished Falcon 9s to launch their goods into space. It started with an historic mission on March 30, when a recycled SpaceX rocket delivered the SES-10 satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit. This was followed by the BulgariaSat-1 mission in June, and then another SES mission last month, this time in collaboration with American satellite company EchoStar.
And it seems NASA has now seen enough to give these reclaimed rockets a go. As confirmed by The Verge today, the space agency will use a retrieved Falcon 9 rocket for an ISS resupply mission in December. The rocket used will be the same that resupplied the ISS in June.
NASA has been toying with the idea of using SpaceX's recovered Falcon 9 boosters for a while, with reports emerging last month that it had already approved the move internally. Going public with this stance is a significant feather in the cap for SpaceX, whose plans to normalize rocket re-flight are central to its business strategy and, ultimately, helping fund Mars colonization efforts.
Source: The Verge