SpaceX to launch first recycled rocket for NASA
Elon Musk’s brainchild has launched recycled rockets and Dragon capsules before but this will be the first time both recycled spacecraft have been used for a NASA mission. Described as “flight-proven,” the rocket launched SpaceX’s 11th resupply mission for NASA, while Dragon visited the station in June of this year.
Discussing the use of a recycled rocket instead of a new one, NASA’s ISS Manager Kirk Shireman, said the risk is about the same and that it's "still a dangerous business,” as cited by AP.
This mission will bring some 5,000lb of gear, including food, equipment for experiments and, hopefully for the astronauts cooped up in the station over the holidays, some Christmas presents.
The Dragon capsule will return to Earth after about a month in space, with about 3,600lb of cargo in tow. Once it leaves ISS’s grip it will head for home, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California.
Falcon 9 will blast off from Launch Complex 40, the pad destroyed when a SpaceX rocket exploded before take off last September.
“This is the beginning of rapid and reliable reusability," SpaceX manager Jessica Jensen, said, according to AP. “We want to be able to send thousands of people into space, not just tens, and so reusability is a very key part of that, and we're excited because tomorrow is just one step closer to that.”
The ever ambitious Musk seemingly has a limitless supply of groundbreaking ideas. Further to reusable rockets, the South African billionaire wants to send humans to Mars, with a view to colonizing the Red Planet.