As most of you, I am super stoked by the amazing success of SpaceX with their Falcon 9 first stage landing back on land!

We also know that they have a huge backlog (over 50 flights) and are building an F9 rocket apparently every three weeks.

Does anyone know what are the next milestones regarding reusability of the F9 stages recovered? Will they actually test one and have it fly again? Will they reuse the nine engines (worth millions)? Will they fly Jeff Bezos for free to space just charging him the cost of fuel?

What's next on the F9R side?

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    $\begingroup$ They initially had a plan to also make the second stage reusable, but decided to abandon it in 2014. The additional heat shielding and fuel capacity required to deorbit it wouldn't have justified the cost savings for the far smaller 2nd stage. It might have made sense with a 3-stage rocket where the 2nd stage is still suborbital and might land somewhere in Eurasia. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 14:15

4 Answers 4


Nobody knows, but it seems pretty safe to assume, for a while, things will continue as normal.

SpaceX will continue launching rockets and attempting to land them. They will take the one they have (and any more they acquire) and analyse them extensively to determine if they are, in fact, flightworthy again and what effects being used has had on their integrity.

Then, at some point in the future, they will announce that they're ready to test-fly with a re-used Rocket. At which point things get really interesting.

At least 1 company has already expressed a willingness to fly on a re-used rocket, for the right discount.


An earlier plan, years ago, when they thought they would have landed much sooner was to take the used first stage to SpacePort America in the Mojave Desert, after inspection, and refly it there several times.

But current plans seem to be focused on expediency and they will use it for fit checks and ground support equipment tests at the LC-39A pad they are building. They may even use it for a static fire test at LC-39A as well.

Once there they might refly it first at Spaceport America.

A recent tweet by Musk suggests they might not refly it considering its historic nature. But plans are in flux. Apparently it was mentioned in the post flight conference call as well: http://www.theverge.com/2015/12/21/10642028/spacex-falcon-9-landing-elon-musk-wont-fly

Additionally they did a static fire test at LC-40 and returned the core to LC-39A for continued fit testing. They claim to have discovered an issue upon refire (which is a historic first, refiring a used orbital booster) that they then delayed SES-9 and CRS-8 to resolve.

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    $\begingroup$ I hope they fly it ASAP. It would be that much more historic if it's the first stage that was used twice. $\endgroup$
    – ventsyv
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @ventsyv They intend to recover pretty much every first stage going forward. So they have LOTS of samples about to start arriving. To the point they will likely have to find places to store them in the short term. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @ventsyv - But you need to balance that against the possibility of A) some undetected failure causing it to be lost or B) failing the second landing. When that happens, rather than two historic rockets or one doubly-historic one, you now have 0. $\endgroup$
    – Bobson
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 17:56

Well, SpaceX's main goal is to reuse stages in order to lower costs. Now that they've successfully landed the first stage, they'll examine it, refurbish whatever need refurbishing and fly it again.

They have 7 launches scheduled in the first quarter of 2016 but I don't know how long it will take them to examine the stage, test it and make sure it's OK to fly again.

SES has expressed willingness to fly on "recycled" rocket, but their launch is scheduled for January 2016 and that might not be enough time to have the stage ready.

Then again, Musk has a bit of a reputation of a slave driver and launches are often delayed, so I won't be surprised if they have the stage ready for it.


Well, they can launch 11 satellites at a time while maintaining and reusing resources of old rockets first stages. Determining how to make a manned returning rocket of the same style seems like a logical next step, but the time frames on that are not known to me.

They are on the cutting edge of space research, and have contracts from NASA to fulfill. The things to come will be exciting and unprecedented, just like last night's launch. The old engines become available for both analysis for wear and tear, as well as becoming part mines, since interchangeable parts is likely somewhere high on the goal list of SpaceX.

Once they do achieve a successful relaunch the cycle of analysis, part replacement, and determining standards for safe relaunching criteria will begin.

I have no doubt a stage 1 will be reused before end of 2016.

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    $\begingroup$ This isn't a forum for discussion, but rather a question and answer site. Feel free to ask new questions, or provide answers to existing questions, but this isn't really an answer to the question. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ Answers title question "Now that they can land a f9 what will they do with it?" Can you expand on what you mean by "isn't really an answer " please @PearsonArtPhoto? $\endgroup$
    – hellyale
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ It's not an answer because you've phrased it as a question. We also prefer answers that are backed up by references. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ False or not, the answer as you've phrased it now looks like a new question with some speculation tacked on, instead of an answer. That's the main reason for the downvotes. The answer also doesn't address the more detailed points in the body of the question. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ Also, I think the question specifically is referring to what to do with the booster they have recovered, not a general purpose statement as to what they can do with the capacity of reuse. The only real statement to that effect is the last half of the second paragraph, and that's pretty generic. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 14:03

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