SpaceX Testing Reusable Rockets, Could Drastically Lower Launch Costs

SpaceX is testing new technology that would allow for reusable rockets. That advancement, if it becomes a reality, would significantly reduce the cost of space travel.

The new technology was introduced by SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk during his speech at SXSW Interactive.

Musk demonstrated SpaceX’s new technology in several videos that showed the tech’s promise. In the first video, a rocket simulation shows how the company could theoretically create reusable rockets. The video shows the rocket launching and returning to earth with a smooth landing.

In traditional rocket technology, the used part of the rocket breaks off and crashes back to earth, making it unusable for future rocket launches.

Musk went on to reveal that the rocket has actually already been launched in a real-life test. While the rocket was not shot fully into space, SpaceX plans to increase the height of each rocket test until a full space launch and re-entry can be observed.

Successfully launching a rocket and having it return safely to earth requires the use of specially designed thrusters and landing gear that are build into the rocket. SpaceX then uses a terminal guidance system to return the rocket safely to the ground. The terminal guidance system is the same technology that will return the Dragon 2 capsule safely to earth.

The SpaceX technology is so advanced that it can make an object land back on earth with the accuracy of a helicopter.

Speaking about the importance of reusable rockets, Musk proclaimed, “If society is going to expand beyond earth, we need to have reusable rockets.”

Talking about his ultimately space travel goal, Elon Musk proclaims, “I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.”

SpaceX is currently under contract with NASA, a contract that included various goods and astronaut launched to the International Space Station.