SpaceX is reported to be busily preparing to use the final Falcon 9 rocket design for the third time, and this launch will be the very first occasion that a single first stage booster will have been used on more than two occasions for space missions, making it a very special thing for the company.
As Engadget reports, it was last reused to put a satellite into geostationary orbit, and on the next mission, SpaceX will allegedly be using the Falcon 9 for an SSO-A launch to carry dozens of satellites into space.
While there is technically no confirmation of this mission from the company as of yet, SpaceX has explained that launches like this are all part of the company’s grand vision to create affordable spaceflight missions, according to SpaceX’s Lars Hoffman, who spoke on Wednesday at the Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium.
“We’re turning this into routine access to space. We’ve launched Falcon 9 over 60 times. We’ve landed our first stage booster 30 times now. And relaunched 16 times. We’re about to relaunch a booster for the third time. High-reliability, higher-performance, lower-cost access to space; that opens it up to everybody.”
With SpaceX’s third go at launching the same booster over a period of less than one year, this shows how true Hoffman’s statement is and that SpaceX really is about top performances and reliability.
Amazing that they have already done 30 first stage landings!
"We've launched Falcon 9 over 60 times," said Hoffman, adding: "We've landed our first stage booster 30 times now. And relaunched 16 times. We're about to relaunch a booster for the third time." https://t.co/jCWVU2lGcF
— Galen Stevens (@galenstevens) October 26, 2018
According to Ars Technica, the launch date scheduled for the SSO-A mission is November 19, with the mission included on the calendar of Spaceflight Now. It was The Space Review that first suggested that the booster may be reused for the third time on this Falcon 9 launch.
Reusing the booster for the third occasion would make plenty of sense as SpaceX have put a huge amount of work into the Block 5 booster, with Elon Musk noting before its inaugural flight that it has taken his company 16 years to come as far as they have.
“For those that know rockets, this is a ridiculously hard thing. It has taken us since, man, since 2002. Sixteen years of extreme effort and many, many iterations and thousands of small but important development changes to get to where we think this is even possible. Crazy hard.”
There has been nothing but acclaim and positive reviews for this Block 5 booster and while it first launched in May it was busy working again under three months later. SpaceX believes that it will be fully possible in the future to use Block 5 boosters for a minimum of 10 flights for each one that they build, and their third launch this year of the same booster shows that they are well on their way to fulfilling their goal.
Despite no formal announcement from SpaceX of the Falcon 9 launch on November 19 reusing the same booster for the third time, it is widely believed that this will occur and that the company will once again be successful on this mission.