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The competition heats up: Rather than re-fly it, Elon Musk suggested today that, after some testing, SpaceX will likely put its first recovered Falcon 9 first stage on display instead.
“[We will] do a static fire at the launch pad there, to confirm that all systems are good and that we are able to do a full thrust hold-down firing of the rocket,” Musk said after the stage landed. The static fire will also test the modifications SpaceX has made to Pad 39A to support its rockets.
After that though, the stage will become a display piece. “I think we will keep this one on the ground for tests that prove it could fly again and then put it somewhere — just because it is quite unique,” Musk said.
Since they already have a satellite company, SES, willing to buy that first stage, this only underlines how this last Falcon 9 launch changes everything. Nor do I think this change has sunk in with most people yet. The last launch was not a one-time event. SpaceX’s intends to recover as many of its first stages as it can in all future launches. Their Falcon 9 first stage is no longer expendable. Thus, they can afford to put this first recovered stage on display because they expect all future first stages to fly again.