SpaceX is at it once again. They are killing two birds with one stone…or throwing two rocks with one arm…making money AND doing science!? Regardless, SpaceX is delivering on their $1.5 billion dollar supply contract with NASA to keep the International Space Station resupplied AND, at the same time, developing the next generation of reusable launch vehicles since the Space Shuttle. That’s right, SpaceX attempted for a second time to land the first stage of their Falcon-6 Rocket on a mobile drone ship. And they almost made it! Elon Musk tweeted that it made it back to the platform but landed “too hard” to survive and excess horizontal motion caused it to tip over. Their previous attempt on January 10th saw the returning first stage run out of hydraulic fluid and hit the edge of the drone ship, causing the rocket stage to break apart over the drone ship. We here at MILES Team have confidence that they will make it on their next attempt.
Rough estimations done by our team members figure that at 40% of the launch cost, reusing the first stage for even 6-8 times will amount to a launch cost saving of roughly $30 million dollars. This would be a huge development for the budding small satellite industry and would put tremendous pressure on NASA’s roughly $100 million dollar price tag per launch. This would greatly accelerate the speed at which we as a community could test our ideas in orbit and beyond. But in the mean time, we shall hope and wait for that historic success and enabling development. Until then, does anyone want to donate $100k to $200k to put a 14kg rockstar of a satellite into flight?