Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, a US space exploration technology company, has said it will cost just $2m per launch with a truly reusable rocket, foreign media reported.
Pictured: SpaceX Starship Prototype Mk1
Musk said that using only one-time expendable launch vehicle looks like airlines lose their airliners every time they complete a flight, while reusable rockets can save huge costs. SpaceX has made great strides in building reusable rockets, and now uses recycled second-hand Falcon 9 rockets and cargo ships to carry out missions. At the same time, the company is now building starships that can be reused multiple times.
This week, Musk made an unexpected appearance before guests at the U.S. Air Force’s launch day in Los Angeles, describing how much the reusable rocket could save SpaceX and its customers. He said the cost of fuel for each launch should be about $900,000, and that the total cost of each launch could be about $2 million, plus operating costs. Musk added that this was “even less expensive than launching a mini-rocket” and that it was “imperative” to build such a launch system.
The starship was designed from scratch to provide high payload capability, and when combined with SpaceX’s overweight booster (under development) and orbital refueling technology, it could also transport large amounts of cargo and satellites to lunar orbit, and eventually to Mars. The starship will eventually replace all of SpaceX’s launch vehicles, and the company believes that once development is complete and put into service, it should eventually be more cost-effective to operate than the Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.
SpaceX is currently preparing for the first test flight of the starship’s prototypes, The Mk1 and Mk2, with the goal of high-altitude controlled flightand and landing, but remaining in the Earth’s atmosphere. The company is also optimistic that the starship will be orbited within six months.