Recycling and reuse are a central topic of our current time. The circular economy is not only conquering factories, but also space. Reusable rockets are supposed to pave the way for space tourism and enormously reduce the enormous costs that it entailed in the past to produce a new space shuttle for every flight.
Space pioneers such as Elon Musk or even Jeff Bezos are investing massively in the construction of rockets that enable an undamaged return and can thus be used for multiple flights. The principle as we know it from classic airplanes is thus becoming more and more tangible for space travel. That this is possible was shown by Elon Musk with SpaceX just over five years ago, when the Falcon-9 rocket completed its return journey unscathed and landed again.
“The Falcon has landed” | Recap of Falcon 9 launch and landing (Source: SpaceX)
This was the beginning of a whole new era of spaceflight, revolutionizing not only rocket technology but also the CO2 value of space exploration. By reusing the rocket components and salvaging them, raw materials and the environment are enormously conserved and allow almost 100% reuse of components. In order to make space travel really suitable for the masses, this is also needed, because otherwise the dreams of SpaceX, Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic will remain just dreams.
If the aforementioned companies manage to reuse rockets in the future as effectively as they do airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced so enormously that a true business model will become possible. The first successes can already be observed, with NASA announcing that costs have dropped fourfold in the last two decades. With rockets like SpaceX’s Falcon-9 or the Falcon Heavy, this cost rate will continue to drop, making the commercialization of space more and more attractive. So in the near future we will see a new kind of tourism booming, in which more and more startups are already investing and which the big corporations are hoping for.