CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Reboot, Reuse, ReLAUNCH!
The excitement, the eagerness and, in the end, the exuberance of the employees at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California was like the players on the field when they win the Super Bowl, going practically berserk with cheering and jubilation. And what SpaceX did Thursday night was arguably far, far bigger than winning the Super Bowl of the very competitive commercial space industry.
After a couple of years landing its spent booster rockets upright on a landing pad, Thursday night Space X used one of those same stage one rockets to launch again.
The University of Colorado’s Phil Larson, former President Barack Obama’s space advisor, likens it to flying the first airplane at Kitty Hawk.
“I think this is a huge deal for the space industry,” Larson said. “And it’s not a stretch to say this is a Wright brothers moment. This has never been done before.”
For the entirety of space history, almost always, the spent rocket dropped into the Atlantic Ocean and was left at the bottom of the sea. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has equated this to spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a new 747, flying it from Los Angeles to New York once, and then throwing it away.
After last night’s relaunch of a reused rocket, Musk accomplished what he and his team have been trying to accomplish for 15 years.