With Dr. Kalam- The missile man of India the outer space became an area being discussed. What is space and its components was the only thing we ever knew until then. The School Geography textbooks taught us things that we never saw and hence seemed to be fiction. Obviously, because we had never seen them. Space consists of stars, planets, galaxies as natural components and the satellites as manmade components. Including all these men himself had reached the space too!!
Satellites have affected various aspects of human life. When talking about satellites, the rocket is the followed topic that comes into discussions. Countries spend thousands of crores rupees on these rockets or launchers which later become a part of the space garbage. Just like we are now finding ways to reuse and recycle the garbage on earth, scientists are now finding ways of reusing and recycling this space garbage too.
SpaceX has come up with a concept of reusable rockets!! And has also successfully implemented it to a large extent. It has been this that helped the 16-year-old company achieve huge targets.
What are reusable rockets??
Reusable rockets are basically the idea of getting back the launch system back to earth. The parts of the rocket that are usually left off into space during a launch mission are created to come back to earth so that they can be used for later missions. This will not only reduce the cost of the missions but will also keep a check on the increasing space debris that is a huge concern now.
How it progressed?
The concept of reusable rocket technology seemed far-fetched at first. But after the 8 launches in 2016 and 18 in 2017 this concept wasn’t only proved but also become the backbone of the company. Though the company could not achieve its target of 30 launches in 2018 the 21 launches that it did was also a difficult-to-achieve target. The first landing took place in 2015 and the first reuse happened in 2017 but since then it has never looked back. The era of Block 5 was finally here!!
What is Block 5?
Block 5 is the flagship rocket that can be reused. The company has now modified the basic model to now include improved engines, durable interstage, titanium grid fins, and a new thermal protection system. Block 5 can now fly 10 times before needing small renovations and up to 100 times before going out of order. The target was to use Block 5 twice within 24 hours, but it was capable of being used thrice. This was a great success.
Another goal was the debut of the heavy-lift rocket, the Falcon Heavy. After channelizing the cherry red Tesla roadster the 3 cores of the falcon flew down to earth. Out of the three two of them returned back successfully to its destined location and one went wrong and fell into the Atlantic Ocean. But this was the company’s long-awaited result. With the return of the cores back to the earth the concept of reusable rockets was no longer science fiction or a far-fetched reality. It became the basic operating routine of the company.
What next after this?
This year SpaceX is planning to reuse the fairing too. This has always been a onetime use component. But as the reuse strategy works SpaceX is now working on bringing back the fairing and reusing it too. The engineers have designed the fairings to navigate back to earth and deploy a parachute before it falls into the ocean. This fairing costs almost one-tenth of the total cost.
Reusing components will not only reduce the costs of the missions but also help in reducing the debris caused due to these space missions. As we cannot neglect the earth’s garbage in the same way we cannot neglect space garbage too. The reuse strategy will also make the future missions comparatively less costly thus opening doors for more such missions. This is a big step in the history of space research.