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Rise of reusable rockets signals a new age of spaceflight

Rise of reusable rockets signals a new age of spaceflight

Successful landings by SpaceX, Blue Origin raise the prospect of cheaper, more efficient rockets

By
11:58am, December 13, 2016
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a barge

ROCKETS RISING  On August 14, aerospace company SpaceX landed a section of its Falcon 9 rocket on a sea barge in the Atlantic. The event marked the fourth such sea success, along with two ground landings.

The era of reusable rockets is poised for liftoff.

As of December 7, the aerospace company SpaceX had reported six successful landings — two on land and four at sea — of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The August 14 launch of one of the rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida delivered a commercial communications satellite into orbit around the Earth.

Reusable rockets could make future spaceflights cheaper and more efficient. Typically, rocket stages, which house the engines, drop off once their fuel is spent and are lost at sea. But the first stage of SpaceX’s two-stage rocket makes a controlled descent once the second stage detaches to deliver the payload into orbit.

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