By now, SpaceX has sent a few of its Falcon 9 rockets out of the Earth’s atmosphere and then successfully landed them back on Earth—even when the degree of difficulty was incredibly high. Landing rockets is hard enough, but the entire point is to be able to use them again, which means they need to be thoroughly tested to avoid any mishaps. (SpaceX has had a few even with brand new rockets.)
Now, they’ve test fired one of the rockets that managed to make it home safely—as you can see in the video above—with fairly impressive results. Of course, this is actual rocket science, so just watching video footage of the Falcon 9 firing its engines and confirming, “Yup, it got real loud and firey! It was neat!” isn’t exactly going to cut it as proof that the rocket is truly reusable. The company’s scientists have a lot of tests to run on the rockets recovered so far to make sure they’re fit to boldly go back into space.
It is, however, reassuring, since the engines burned without trouble for a decent stretch of time, and this was the most damaged out of the three Falcon 9s that have returned to Earth so far. This one went farther and faster than the others and took “max damage,” according to SpaceX’s Elon Musk, which is why it will remain grounded and continue to undergo tests for the benefit of future relaunches. If it works this well after the stress it took on its mission, it’s a good bet others with less damage will be fit to fly again.
We don’t yet know when we’ll see the first one fly again, but tests like this bring that moment ever closer.
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