SpaceX Launches its 11th Used Falcon 9 Rocket
SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket for the 11th time, which deployed the company’s Dragon capsule into orbit on April 3, 2018.
The company sent 10 communications satellites into orbit from California, and Cape Canaveral, Florida. This time they sent 5,800 pounds of supplies and science experiment up to the International Space Station. That cargo be atop the rocket inside one of SpaceX’s Dragon capsules.
This is the second time NASA is relying on a used Falcon 9 rocket to get equipment to the space station, and it’s the third time a used Dragon cargo capsule will carry supplies to the ISS, as well. But despite the recycled hardware of today’s mission, SpaceX won’t be landing its Falcon 9 after launch today. SpaceX indicated that the decision to skip a landing had to do with the fact that this particular Falcon 9 has already flown once before for another resupply mission to the space station in August. So, the company decided it would be better to collect data on this trip during the rocket’s fall and landing in the ocean than to attempt a full recovery.
“This is the second time NASA is relying on a used Falcon 9 rocket. This one seemed like a really good opportunity to fly a trajectory a little bit out more towards the limits. And that way, our engineers can collect additional data, not only during reentry but during landing that will be useful for the future.” said Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon mission management at SpaceX.
This marks the fourth SpaceX mission in a row that will not attempt a recovery of the vehicle. The company is planning on transitioning to the last version of its Falcon 9 rocket, called Block 5. This transition will make it easier to reuse the vehicles for future use. Block 5 will upgrade the rocket with features such as higher performing engines, titanium grid fins, and retractable landing legs. These changes will support rapid reuse. The company expects to launch its first Block 5 rocket in late April, sending up a communications satellite for Bangladesh.
The current vehicle was used to transport equipment to analyze thunderstorms on Earth and research objects such as tissues and plants to artificial gravity.
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