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Why SpaceX’s Latest Launch Is So Significant

Just a few days ago, social media was blitzed with thousands of videos of what would end turn out to be a very significant event. Throngs of west coast residents and tourists, including my own niece and nephew, caught a glimpse of the latest SpaceX launch, which looked admittedly strange in the twilight hours as it blasted into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California. Videos popped up by the hundreds from concerned onlookers who had no idea what they were seeing, until word finally spread about the SpaceX launch.

What makes the launch so significant is the fact that this marked the first time in history that a rocket has been reused. While NASA had the Space Shuttle program, the agency was never able to viably build, retrieve and reuse it’s rockets. This particular unit was launched and successfully landed in April of 2016, then launched and landed again this week.

This is a huge milestone for SpaceX because it provides concrete proof that CEO Elon Musk’s vision of reusable rockets is viable. Not having to incur the cost of building new launch vehicles from the ground up will save the company a huge amount of money and time. While each unit will be inspected and overhauled to ensure it’s ready to relaunch, not having to start from nothing is a huge time and financial boost. SpaceX has been attempting to land the first stage of it’s rocket’s over the past 13 launches with 8 of those landings being successfully landed and retrieved. This was the first of those to be overhauled and launched again.

The company ultimately plans to send humans to space, with testing of manned missions slated to start next year. Eventually they hope to carry people to the moon and Mars, though those plans could take decades to come to fruition. However, what we are seeing today is laying the foundation for those plans to come to life!