Next Dragon launch for NASA may fly using reused first stage


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Capitalism in space: NASA revealed today that it is close to approving the use of a Falcon 9 reused first stage for the next Dragon cargo mission to ISS.

During a press conference at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility here Nov. 10 about the launch of a Cygnus cargo mission to the ISS, a NASA manager said the agency would likely approve the use of a reused booster on that mission, designated SpX-13, assuming it clears an upcoming review. “We’re in the final stages of doing all those assessments,” Dan Hartman, ISS deputy program manager, said. SpaceX first requested to use a previously-flown booster for a cargo mission about a year ago. “On the NASA side, we’ve had a lot of major reviews.”

He said SpaceX itself had one more readiness review for the booster they’re planning to refly before deciding if they can use it for the SpX-13 mission, scheduled for launch Dec. 4. “If that comes back positive,” he said, “I’d say the chances are that we’ll be flying a reuse on SpX-13.”

It appears that about a year from now the use of reused boosters will have become completely normalized, with no one thinking anything unusual about their use. This, after almost a half century of old-school engineers and managers repeatedly saying such a thing made no sense and was impossible in terms of engineering and economics.

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