Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

SpaceX Notches Record 10th Launch of a Reused Rocket

By Rich Smith - May 10, 2021 at 11:46AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

This is a much bigger deal than Dogecoin.

Elon Musk has done it again (and no, I'm not talking about his Saturday Night Live appearance).

Very early Sunday morning (in fact, less than two hours after Musk left the stage on SNL), a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched out of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on a mission to deliver another 60 Starlink broadband internet satellites into orbit. The launch was SpaceX's 14th launch this year, and the ninth relaunch of this particular rocket -- its 10th round trip from Earth to space and back again.  

Technically, of course, it wasn't the entire rocket that launched and landed. SpaceX currently only reuses the first stage of its rockets, and the occasional space capsule, having abandoned its efforts to catch payload fairings as they fall. Technically, you can even argue about whether that first stage even goes into space, as main engine cutoff on a Falcon 9 launch occurs about 10 miles below the Karman line, considered the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.

But quibbles aside, SpaceX is currently the only space company on Earth regularly launching space rockets and landing even part of them back here. And that's a big deal for SpaceX and its customers.

Time lapse photo showing rocket launching and landing trails forming an X

Time-lapse photography shows the launching and landing trajectories of a SpaceX rocket. Image source: SpaceX.

Launching and reusing a single rocket stage six times is about half as expensive per launch as building, launching, and not recovering six brand-new rockets. The more times SpaceX is able to reuse a rocket stage, the cheaper each subsequent launch gets. And according to Musk, "there isn't an obvious limit" on how many times it will be able to reuse any given Falcon 9 first stage. Even "100+ flights are possible," says the SpaceX CEO, with periodic maintenance and replacement of worn-out parts. 

Just like its rockets, SpaceX's costs are coming down to earth.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/16/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.