SpaceX’s Elon Musk talks next goals for Falcon rocket reusability
CEO Elon Musk has reiterated that SpaceX is still pursuing a major rocket reuse milestone he originally set for the company several years ago and revealed that its Falcon rockets could ultimately soar far beyond it.
Musk has been talking publicly about reusable rockets for well over a decade but the first hard numbers linked to real hardware came with the debut of Falcon 9’s Block 5 upgrade in May 2018. In a conference call with reporters, Musk famously revealed that the Block 5 upgrade incorporated design changes that would ultimately allow SpaceX to reuse orbital-class Falcon boosters at least ten times each. An upper bound of 100+ flights per booster would also be possible with regular maintenance and part replacements every ten or so launches.
Since the upgrade’s May 11th, 2018 launch debut, Falcon 9 and Heavy Block 5 rockets have completed 37 launches – all successful – with only one in-flight anomaly, a March 2020 engine failure that prevented booster recovery but didn’t preclude mission success. Excluding three flawless Falcon Heavy launches, SpaceX’s 34 Falcon 9 Block 5 launches were collectively completed by 11 boosters – an average of >3 launches per rocket. In fewer words, SpaceX has accumulated a vast wealth of data with which it can judge the Block 5 design and CEO Elon Musk has some choice observations more than two years after his Block 5 press conference.