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The competition heats up: Yesterday Elon Musk sent out a tweet that simply repeated something his company has been saying now for several months — but with one slight additional detail — and the press went gaga.
What Musk said was that SpaceX hopes to reuse one of its used Falcon 9 first stages by September or October. Previously they had merely said they were aiming to do it before the end of the year. Since SES has offered one of its satellites for the job, and since it has had for months two such satellites scheduled for launch by SpaceX in September and October, this announcement by Musk is not really much of a surprise. Yet, the tweet was enough for all of the following mainstream news sources to gin up news-breaking headlines:
- Nikkei Asian Review: SpaceX to launch reused rockets by year-end
- CNET: SpaceX aims to relaunch a rocket for the first time later this year
- Mashable: SpaceX aims to relaunch a used Falcon 9 rocket as early as September
- Los Angeles Times: SpaceX aiming to launch its first reusable rocket in the fall
- Popular Science: SpaceX Plans To Re-Use A Rocket For The First Time This Fall
- The Verge: SpaceX plans to relaunch a used rocket for the first time this fall
I am not really complaining. What I am really noting is how serious the world now takes what Musk and SpaceX are doing. They say they plan to do something new and revolutionary, and people sit up and take notice. And the reasons are twofold. First, everything they have said they were going to do, they have done. Musk’s announcement has to be taken seriously. Second, Musk owns SpaceX, and does not really need anyone’s permission to do this. He isn’t in a negotiation with numerous other players, as has been the case with NASA and its projects for the past half century. We know that if he wants to try something, the only things that could stop him are lack of capital and lack of good engineering, neither of which are an obstacle in this case.
So, be prepared for the first relaunch of a rocket’s first stage sometime this fall. And don’t be surprised if that isn’t the only new thing SpaceX accomplishes at the time.