Published: Tue, April 04, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Elon Musk is changing the rules of space travel

Elon Musk is changing the rules of space travel

SpaceX successfully launched and landed a recycled rocket on Thursday, a first for Elon Musk's company and a move that could help slash the cost of cargo transport into space.

Ars Technica reported that with its single Merlin engine, the vacuum-rated version of the nine engines previously used on the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will be used for Falcon Heavy's second stage rocket.

"This is going to be ultimately a huge revolution in spaceflight".

The first successful land-based landing occurred on December 22, 2015, at LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, while the first landing on a barge-like ship occurred in the Atlantic on April 8, 2016.

SpaceX's rival firm, Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, successfully completed similar rocket recovery tests, but all of its missions were suborbital, not orbital, ones. SpaceX claims that its Falcon 9 Heavy will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. Many more landed boosters will be used during future missions. Historically, rockets have been a single-use object - imagine the cost of commuting to work if you had to buy a new auto each day. To do so, SpaceX will have to bring back the first-stage rocket, the payload and the second stage of the launch vehicle.

Elon Musk's SpaceX on Thursday salvaged half of the $6 million nosecone of its rocket, in what the space entrepreneur deemed an important feat in the drive to recover more of its launch hardware and cut the cost of space flights. While it is not exactly routine, it is the first time a rocket that had flown in space before is being reused.

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He said it is also a crucial part of his plan to one day establish human colonies on Mars. Currently, millions of dollars' worth of rocket parts are jettisoned after each launch.

As for Musk, he said that the test payload would be the silliest thing they can imagine.

"I think that 50 years from now we'll look back on this day and that's say where commercial space travel began", aerospace engineer and former NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun told Eric Berger at Ars Technica.

However, he dismissed "naysayers" this week and stressed the historic nature of the launch on what he has described as a "flight-proven" rocket.

On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave an inspiring speech at Rice University, my alma mater, where he said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade. not because (it is) easy, but because (it is) hard".

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