SpaceX's prospects will turn on whether the company can pull off a year of firsts. In 2017, the Hawthorne space company is planning the first reflight of a previously used first-stage rocket booster; the long-awaited debut of its larger Falcon Heavy rocket; and an unmanned test flight of its capsule, which eventually will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Most important, from a revenue-generating standpoint, SpaceX also intends to increase its launch cadence, potentially sending up rockets as frequently as once every two to three weeks. Experience with rocket recovery also is important for the company's eventual plans to colonize Mars. SpaceX's next launch is targeted for Feb. 18, when the company will carry supplies for NASA to the International Space Station.
SpaceX is having a pretty great year. It's only June and the Elon Musk-founded company has already launched nine missions to orbit, exceeding their previous annual launch total of eight. SpaceX is also consistently landing Falcon 9 rocket stages back on Earth after lofting those missions, an extraordinary feat considering that the company hadn't successfully landed a booster back on Earth at all until December 2015. SEE ALSO: SpaceX's second launch-and-land of a used rocket was a nail-biter "Two years ago, they hadn't landed any rockets, and in one weekend, they landed two rockets, and one was already reused," Phil Larson, a former SpaceX employee, said in an interview. Larson is currently an assistant dean at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
January 23, 2017 --SpaceX's current Falcon 9 rocket may soon be heading for retirement. Responding to a question via Twitter on Saturday, SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed that the aerospace startup plans to shift to its improved reusable Block 5 Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rockets for delivery of even heavier payloads into space. Reusable rockets are a linchpin for Mr. Musk's vision for the future of spaceflight, as they hold the potential to dramatically slash the cost of reaching low-Earth orbit. For that reason, space agencies around the world, as well as other private spaceflight companies are closely watching the progress of SpaceX reusable rockets. "If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred," Musk said in a SpaceX statement in 2013.