But there was another first for SpaceX — the landing. The company successfully brought the first stage of the rocket back to earth, evidence that SpaceX can reclaim its materials — materials that cost millions to construct. With the landing of Falcon 9, SpaceX got an edge on its competitor, Blue Origin, which brought back its own rocket (which did not carry cargo) last month.
“There’s potential to reduce launch costs substantially, maybe as much as 75 percent,” said Christensen.
Those savings could be passed on to the companies hitching rides on those rockets, like those making weather and communications satellites — if it doesn’t cost too much to get the rockets up and running again.
Christensen said expensive refurbishing could cut savings down to just 10 percent. But even that would still save companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin millions of dollars.
“The shuttle is sort of a cautionary tale,” he said. “So I hope that [the companies] considered the potential pitfalls with the refurbishment process.”
Sedwick said if these private companies can get the technology right, it could change the commercial space industry.
“That’s why it’s really great that there are two companies that are working on this at the same time.”
With the stiff competition between Blue Origin and SpaceX, a ride to space could get a lot cheaper.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.