The Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX landed today may be the first of the company's vehicle to relaunch into space, CEO Elon Musk said today at a NASA press conference. That would make it the first orbital rocket of its kind to travel to space a second time.
Musk said the company will first stabilize the rocket by welding it down to the deck of the drone ship it landed on. Then, the ship will transport the vehicle to port by Sunday. Once the Falcon 9 gets back to land, SpaceX will conduct a series of test fires on the rocket to see how its engines are working. Musk said the company will fire the engines 10 times in a row, and if everything is working properly, the vehicle will probably relaunch on an orbital mission around May or June. Ultimately, SpaceX hopes to reduce the turnaround time for its rockets to a couple of weeks.
First, the company will fire the engines 10 times in a row
When asked if that launch would be for a paying customer, Musk said the company hadn't decided yet. "We think it'll be a paying customer, but we have to have discussions on it," he said. Musk also said the Falcon 9 rockets could potentially be reused for an additional 10 to 20 missions, and with minor refurbishment, the rocket's life could span 100 launches.
This isn't the first rocket that SpaceX has landed, though. The company landed a Falcon 9 for the first time in December, but the vehicle touched down on land instead of a drone ship at sea. However, SpaceX decided not to relaunch that rocket, since it was the first vehicle they'd ever landed and Musk said it was "unique."