Capitalism in space: It appears that SpaceX is planning to do its first reflight of a used Block 5 booster on August 4.
This will be SpaceX’s third Falcon 9 Block 5 launch in less than two weeks if the schedule holds. More important than the schedule, perhaps, is the fact that it would appear that SpaceX intends to reuse the first Block 5 booster (B1046) for this particular launch. To lay out the foundation of this claim, it’s known that SpaceX’s CCAFS Pad 40 integration facilities are only capable of fitting one booster and the strongback (transporter/erector/launcher, TEL) at a time, evidenced both by sourced comments and views inside the hangar.
Meanwhile, an unmistakeable Block 5 booster – with black interstage and octaweb coverings – was spotted being transported through Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) earlier this week, just after Falcon 9 B1047 launched (July 21 EDT) and freed up space for another booster inside the horizontal integration facility (HIF) at Pad 40. Given that only one Block 5 booster has been recovered on the East Coast and that B1047 was still out at sea earlier this week, the sooty booster traveling through CCAFS thus has to have been B1046, and it was making a beeline for LC-40.
SpaceX is once again demonstrating why they have taken over the global launch industry. They are proving that they will be able to routinely reuse a relatively small number of first stage boosters, frequently, and cheaply.
CORRECTION: I initially wrote this post under the mistaken impression that the booster being reflown was going to do so after only fourteen days. This was wrong. The booster was flown two months ago, in May.
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