SpaceX could begin launching completely reusable Falcon 9 rockets by the end of next year, company founder and CEO Elon Musk said.
On March 30, a Falcon 9 with a “flight-proven” first stage launched the SES-10 communications satellite to orbit, marking a big milestone for SpaceX, which has prioritized the development of reusable rockets as a way to slash the cost of spaceflight.
That first stage touched down successfully about 9 minutes after liftoff on March 30, making a pinpoint landing on the deck of a SpaceX “drone ship” called Of Course I Still Love You. In addition, the company recovered the payload fairing that protected SES-10 during liftoff, Musk said during a post-launch teleconference with reporters — and he hinted that SpaceX may go for a “Hail Mary” and try to make the Falcon 9’s upper stage reusable as well.
That latter statement was apparently more than just idle musing.
“Fairing is ~$5M, but that should be reusable this year. Am fairly confident we can reuse upper stage too by late next year to get to 100%,” Musk tweeted on Friday (April 7).