When SpaceX launched two American NASA astronauts into space earlier this year, the Elon Musk company made history. For one, it was the first private company to send astronauts into space.
That’s not the only way they’re changing the field of space exploration. That’s because, the rocket booster they used for historic trip in May? Well, they just used it again to launch a satellite.
This is a huge deal. Why? According to CNN, “SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is the only launch vehicle in the world that features a reusable first-stage booster.” Previously, rocket boosters were just one and done — which wasted a whole lot of money, resources, and hardware.
But now, because of SpaceX, this innovative rocket booster can be reused.
What role does the SpaceX rocket booster play in the launch?
With nine engines, it’s a first-stage booster that gives the rocket the initial thrust at liftoff. Once it uses a majority of its fuel, it detaches; then the second stage of the rocket — which is not reusable — takes over.
Meanwhile, the SpaceX rocket booster steers itself back to earth for a landing — and to get ready for the next mission.
According to Elon Musk, these current rocket boosters can be used up to five times! But, unsurprisingly, they’re working on a new version that can be flown up to 10 times. When these expensive rockets are able to be reused, it saves the company money, and it allows more launches into space.
For the latest launch, the SpaceX rocket sent a South Korean military communications satellite into space as part of the ANASIS II mission. After the first-stage booster fired its engines, it broke off just as planned, and returned to a SpaceX remote-controlled platform.
For all the latest fun SpaceX updates, check out their Twitter page.
Space Activities for Kids
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