Spacex has landed its first stage on land as we will start an age of reusable rockets

Soacex has returned to flight and landed its first stage on land

Spacex built a larger rocket with more fuel. By returning to its launch pad they burned more fuel than a parabolic landing. They will be able to make parabolic landings when their Texas launch facility is up and running.

The reusable rocket age will truly start with a relaunch in 2016 but the complete return of a first stage that requires minimal maintenance for relaunch is a huge step to lower cost space flight.

“@elonmusk: There and back again”

Here are the estimated costs for one use and partially reusable and more reusable Spacex rockets.

One use Falcon 9 rocket launch cost $1,860/lb
One use Falcon Heavy launch cost $1000/lb
The above costs are from Wikipedia and the Spacex website.

First stage reusable Falcon 9 launch cost $1200/lb
First stage reusable Falcon Heavy launch cost $600/lb

The cost of fuel and the Spacex rockets has been repeated a few times.

Fuel is only 0.3 percent of the total cost of a rocket, with construction materials accounting for no more than 2 percent of the total cost, which for the Falcon 9 is about $60 million.

Musk said that a rocket’s first stage accounts for three-quarters of its total price tag, so a vehicle with a reusable first stage can be produced at far less cost — assuming the hardware is fully and rapidly reusable.

A reusable rocket stage would be able to launch about 80% of the cargo of a one use rocket. The weight of fuel is needed to fly the stage back and the extra weight of landing legs and other modifications for reuse have to be carried.

Two launches with second reusing the first stage.
Capital cost – 1.25 times the cost of one full rocket.
0.6% for fuel
Launch cargo 1.6 times the cargo of one rocket.
78% of the cost of a single use rocket

Three launches with reuse of the first stage twice.
Capital cost – 1.5 times the cost of one rocket
0.9% for fuel
Launch cargo 2.4 times the cargo of one rocket
62.5% of the cost of a single use rocket

50% of the cost with five launches and four reuses of the first stage [$930 per pound for the 9 v1.1 and $500 per pound for the heavy]

Reusable first stage falcon heavy [with about twenty reuses] can get down to about $350/lb [one third the one use price].

Reusable (about fifteen times) Falcon 9 rocket launch cost all stages reusable $100/lb [all three stages of a falcon heavy, should get to about ten times cheaper]

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