Arguably one of the most significant innovations that SpaceX has achieved is the ability to reuse launched rockets. The company has actually been reusing its rockets for years now, but not for many of the more paramount launches. However, in an important shift yesterday, this is about to change.
SpaceX has just signed a contract with the U.S. Space Force. Said contract would allow SpaceX to reuse a Falcon 9 booster rocket for two upcoming National Security Space Launch missions. “SpaceX is proud to leverage Falcon 9’s flight-proven benefits and capabilities for national security space launch missions,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president. When this comes to fruition, it will mark the first time a reused rocket was used to launch a payload of this significance.
The first payload that SpaceX will be launching for the US Space Force using reused rockets is a Global Positioning (GPS)-III satellite. Lockheed Martin builds this particular satellite and touts its advanced accuracy and anti-jamming capabilities. One of these GPS III satellites’ next launch will be on September 29, but this launch won’t be using a reused Falcon 9 rocket. GPS III-SV05 and GPS III-SV06 will be the first launches that use reused Falcon 9s, which aren’t scheduled to launch until sometime next year.
This move reflects a new level of trust in SpaceX and its used rockets. It will also end up saving the U.S. Space Force around $52 million on just the GPS III missions. SpaceX also wins here because it is beginning to focus more on Starship and less on producing new Falcon 9 rockets.
Via Parabolic Arc