They say ‘third times a charm’, but that expression is usually reserved for success after failure.
Not so for SpaceX, which Monday relaunched and retrieved its block 5 Falcon 9 rocket for the first time. That marks the second successful launch and retrieval for this particular model, which had previously launched just under three months ago, in May 2018.
This is not the first time SpaceX has successfully relaunched one of its rockets, but it is the first time that the uber-reusable ‘block 5’ rocket blasted off. This rocket was used to place Indonesia’s Merah Putih satellite into orbit and that payload was offloaded 32 minutes after launch, heralding the mission a complete success.
The reusable stage one booster touched down on the droneship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ approximately nine minutes after launch.
That now paves the way for SpaceX to launch the block 5 rocket for a third successive launch — which would be the first time in history a booster was used three times. In March 2017, the company was able to successfully relaunch its block 4 booster rocket that had previously launched a year earlier. Although the rocket had to be torn down and refurbished between flights, there’s been some clear improvement in that turnaround time for the block 5.
In the future Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, aims to get those turnaround times to as low as a single day.