back to article SpaceX's Musk: We'll reuse today's Falcon 9 rocket within 2 months

SpaceX supremo Elon Musk said his Falcon 9 rocket that made its historic robo-barge landing on Friday will be flying up into space again by June. "We'll bring the rocket back to Port Canaveral on Sunday and fire it 10 times in a row on the ground," he said. "If things look good then it is qualified for reuse and launch. We're …


  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

    Nicely done...

    It's another milestone.

    1. Salts

      Re: Nicely done...

      Awesome, I have watched planes and helicopters land on ships and you think now that takes skill, but a rocket, that, as they say takes the fuc|<ing biscuit :-)

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    First booster

    Musk mentioned they got FAA approval (since they're next to an airport) to mount the first landed booster upright at SpaceX HQ.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: First booster

      The airport they're based at, Hawthorne, is also right next to the approach to LAX which should make for an interesting sight if you're flying in there.

  3. DryBones

    That was the calmest I've ever seen the ocean. I read their securing method is going to be 'weld the feet to the deck for the trip back to port'.

    I think they need to engineer some capture mechanisms.

    1. Hopalong

      He did say that they had 50MPH winds when asked why the stage came in at an angle, that is a Gale (Force 8 to 9). And it landed only a couple of metres off centre!

      A very good days work by SpaceX

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "And it landed only a couple of metres off centre!"

        Proving in a stroke that not only can they land it, but that it can be done in somewhat "less than perfect" conditions.

        Agree with the sentiments about capture mechanisms. Anchoring should be more automatic/automated if this is to become routine.

        1. Sproggit

          Capture Mechanisms

          I guess the hardest part about the application of a capture mechanism is going to be the need for safety. {I don't know, but I am assuming that "Of Course I Still Love You" has no human crew at the point of capture.}

          That being the case, perhaps Musk can adopt some technology from his "other" company. Tesla have already demonstrated the "self-attaching charger snake" - i.e. that robotic unit for your garage so that you can get out of your Model S at your front door, only for the car to park itself and attach the charger without help...

          Now, with a few examples of that, strengthened and suitably scaled up in size, there has to be a way that Tesla could mount a selection of those around the edge of the landing platform in such a way that they can be swung in to place.

          In the descent phase, the 1st stage rocket pops out some small flaps at the upper edge [where it separates from the second stage] that act as drags to keep the motor oriented and descending "rockets pointing down". The same mechanism that is used to pop open those flaps might be able to pop out and reveal some anchor points for robotic, self-attaching anchors.

          And the cool part would be that all the complex and heavy tech for that could be mounted on the drone recovery ship, thus not adding to the gross take-off-weight of the Falcon...

          Important not to loose sight of the achievement, I guess. In 30 years NASA came up with capsule splashdowns and a dead-stick orbiter return. in 30 *lauches* SpaceX are dropping a rocket motor the size of the Statue of Liberty onto a ship in the middle of a force 8-9 gale in the ocean... Impressive

    2. Weapon

      The ocean was not that calm. It just looks like that due to scale. The Falcon 9 first stage is HUGE. Think statue of liberty huge.

    3. James Hughes 1

      If that's the calmest you have ever seen the ocean, you need to watch more ocean. Sea state looked about F6 to maybe 7, which is pretty damn windy- waves were 2-3M I estimate.

      That's pretty hard going.

      They don't weld the feet themselves, but weld a cteel shoe over them. It's quite difficult to weld carbon fibre....

  4. RIBrsiq
    Thumb Up

    Musk might have been joking, but it makes a pretty accurate -- and ambitious -- mission statement, if you think about it:

    "SpaceX: We Strive to Make Space Travel Boring".

    1. Notas Badoff

      Well "The plans are going to sound crazy, but it should at least be entertaining" would never have been said by a NASA spokesperson! I think I like the plain call to adventure by these folk. We'll all be chewing nails at manned launch time, but for the meantime hoorah!.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Well "The plans are going to sound crazy, but it should at least be entertaining" would never have been said by a NASA spokesperson!"

        Well, we'll enter Mars atmosphere at orbital velocity and the heat shield should help with that. Then well open these huge supersonic rated parachutes and hang under them till we get a bit closer to the ground. At this point we'll cut the 'chutes away and fire some rocket engines to slow down that last bit into a hover. Then well lower the nuclear powered, laser armed, SUV sized tank down to the surface. All this will be under antonymous computer control 'cos, like, it's a bit hard to do remote control with multi-minute radio transit time.

        NASA? Bat shit crazy when they need to be :-)

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge


          An excellent portmanteau for 'named'!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            He just made a typo. There's no need to be so negative.

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          @john brown, have an upvote.

          Nasa has achieved some pretty awesome things and developed amazing technology but has always been hamstrung by budget cuts, shifting focus and unclear leadership. They could have had a replacement for the space shuttle years ago, but any research projects for the tech needed for a spaceplane or launch system was always cut short right when actual results where starting to form. Even now the development of a new launch system is way too dependent on politics and lack of vision of the very high ups, instead of on the vision of the engineers who could actually come up with something new.

      2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Well "The plans are going to sound crazy, but it should at least be entertaining" would never have been said by a NASA spokesperson!

        Quite, but I suspect that the minute SpaceX starts carrying Real Live Humans™, they're going to be just as deadly serious about it as NASA ever was.

        Meanwhile I thoroughly enjoy Musk's candour when discussing the company's prototypes.

    2. M man

      Where can I buy that t-shirt?

  5. gecho

    Weight Savings

    If the rockets can be reliably landed it would be worth the extra expense to make them lighter by using more expensive composites, thus increasing payload.

    1. Geoff Johnson

      Re: Weight Savings

      As far as I know, the only design decision made for cost reasons was to make all of the engines and fuel tank segments the same. Which is why these rockets are the same thickness all the way up, rather than the saturn 5 with each stage a bit thinner. But I doubt you'd save much weight by changing that, you still need the same size, only the shape changes.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Weight Savings

        There are quite a few design decisions made for cost reasons. Yes, reusing design elements and modules across stages reduces cost. Another example is that instead of machining material out of the tank walls (time consuming and expensive), friction stir welding is used to add material.


    The plans are going to sound crazy,

    Okay that's one hell of a teaser :-)

  7. jake Silver badge

    "Merlin engines"?

    Methinks someone has a trademark on that name ...

    1. Professur

      Re: "Merlin engines"?

      King Arthur hasn't been seen at court in quite some time.

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: "Merlin engines"?

        But Henry Royce was around a lot more recently.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: "Merlin engines"?

          Pretty sure the trademark does not apply to "throw firey shit out of the back" engines, so it doesn't matter.

          1. dajames Silver badge

            Re: "Merlin engines"?

            Pretty sure the trademark does not apply to "throw firey shit out of the back" engines, so it doesn't matter.

            Merlins don't throw firey shit out of the back, they Spitfire.

          2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: "Merlin engines"?

            "Pretty sure the trademark does not apply to "throw firey shit out of the back" engines, so it doesn't matter."

            Have you ever seen a Merlin running? "Throw fire out the back" is very definitely an attribute, in fact it probably contributes a little to the thrust. It's not nearly so noticeable when they are flying, but when they are used to power something like a dragster the blue flames are rather visible.

            Post war, piston engines were built which were both supercharged and turbocharged, in an effort to keep them competitive with the new jet engines. Then people realised that a significant part of the thrust was coming from the exhaust, and replacing the piston engine with a combustion cavity just gave you a jet engine.

            1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

              Re: "Merlin engines"?

              The original merlin plane engine had the exhausts pointing straight out to the sides of the aircraft. When these exhausts were replaced by the bent ones that sent the exhaust out at a 45 degree angle backwards, they got about 70 hp of extra thrust.

              See for more details

            2. Adrian Midgley 1

              Re: "Merlin engines"?

              They knew it. The spitfire gets thrust from its radiators even.

            3. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: "Merlin engines"?

              Dragsters blowing blue flames out the pipes are fueled by nitromethane. Because of the fuel, the engines run really rich and the blue flame is from the excess raw fuel igniting. Yellow or orange would be traditional petrol (gasoline) and again.. running rich.

              WWII a/c will put out flames but usually only on takeoff when the "carb" setting would be at "rich". At altitude they were adjusted from "rich" to "lean" for economy.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: "Merlin engines"?

                "Because of the fuel, the engines run really rich"

                Strange fact ... it's not because of the fuel that they run rich. It's because they run without a conventional cooling system. The excess fuel that burns off (much loved by kids at night) is actually there to help keep things from melting down/blowing apart.

        2. Dave Bell

          Re: "Merlin engines"?

          True, but trademarks are limited to specified puposes. Some of the ways trademark law have been used are very questionable for that reason.

          As an example. the Orange mobile phone network trademarked a specific colour of orange. And they were very specific on what use their trademark covered.

          A V12 internal combustion engine from before WW2 is a bit difficult to confuse with a 21st Century rocket engine. Saying otherwise would be like using the car trademark to ban mini skirts.

          1. NotBob

            Re: "Merlin engines"?

            It is called a "merlin engine." Good luck marketing a skirt you're calling the "Volkswagen Beetle" in that analogy.

            Further, we're actually talking about 2 motors, not a car and a skirt, so the similarity is much greater.

            1. Fink-Nottle

              Re: "Merlin engines"?

              Given that the crowds vociferously chant "USA ... USA" at each launch, it would be more appropriate name the bits of their spacecraft after mythical characters from American 'culture'. The Micky Mouse engine has a certain ring to it ...

              1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

                Re: "Merlin engines"?

                ... after mythical characters ...

                I always assumed the RR Merlin engine was named after the hawk, rather than the wizard.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "Merlin engines"?

                  > I always assumed the RR Merlin engine was named after the hawk, rather than the wizard.

                  To keep everyone happy, what's needed is a name that's not only a bird, but mythical and American too.

                  Hmmm ... fetch me my encyclopaedia, Parker.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Saying otherwise would be like using the car trademark to ban mini skirts.

            Please don't ban mini skirts.

      2. jake Silver badge

        @Professur (was: Re: "Merlin engines"?)

        I think Rolls-Royce is still (fairly) liquid, though ...

    2. fishman

      Re: "Merlin engines"?

      RR hasn't built Merlin engines since 1950. If you don't use a trademark for a long period, you loose it.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: "Merlin engines"?

        "RR hasn't built Merlin engines since 1950. If you don't use a trademark for a long period, you loose it."

        Unused trademarks just want to be free. Whether they can be found or not is a different matter.

        Seriously, though, there are so many trademarks with the word "Merlin" in them that I do not think the name alone could possibly be trademarked. To those of us of a certain age, however, any reference to a "Merlin engine" can only mean one thing, and that is what this is all about.

        1. oolor

          Re: "Merlin engines"?

          Trademarks, pshhh...

          Why bother, it's not like anyone else is going to have a competitive product similarly named.

          If anything trademarking Merlin for rockets will just let him announce that "all our trademarks are belong to you!"

    3. James Hughes 1

      Re: "Merlin engines"? 'Jake

      Thing is, SpaceX have been launching rockets with Merlin engines for ten years, and no-one has complained.

      Try to keep up.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I'll get me space suit

    "Musk said he will be detailing the company's plan to reach the Red Planet in September" !

  9. Geoff Johnson

    The plans are going to sound crazy

    As if bringing something the size of a 20 storey building travelling at over 7000kph over 100km high down onto a boat named "Of course I still love you" doesn't sound crazy.

    1. Kaltern

      Re: The plans are going to sound crazy

      It's probably better than 'Rockety McRocketface.'

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The plans are going to sound crazy

      Perhaps the barges are AI driven, like the Culture ship the name comes from. This is Musk we're talking about after all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The plans are going to sound crazy

        If you listened to the whole of the press conference you'd know that it's not a barge. It was a barge, but it's been converted into an autonomous drone* ship.

    3. tirk

      Re: The plans are going to sound crazy

      Is it just me or does "Of course I still love you" sound like a Ship name from and Iain Banks novel?

      1. yoganmahew

        Re: The plans are going to sound crazy


        No, but if does sound like a ship name from an Iain M. Banks novel...


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