SpaceX Will Not Attempt to Recover Booster from Iridium-4 Launch

SpaceX will not attempt to recover the Falcon 9 first-stage booster during tomorrow’s Iridium-4 launch. After speculation arose online that the Falcon 9 launch vehicle did not appear to have the legs and control fins for a soft landing, both SpaceX and Iridium spokespeople confirmed the launch provider would not attempt a recovery.

“These are case-by-case decisions and are based on mission requirements and the needs of our manifest,” explained a SpaceX spokesperson following a request by SpaceNews.

Although no additional information has been supplied regarding the Iridium-4 launch, SpaceNews senior staff writer, Jeff Foust speculated that the company may simply not be interested in recovering the older “Block 3” booster variant. With SpaceX set to introduce their “Block 5” boosters in 2018, the older iterations may simply cost more to recover than they’re worth.

The booster being used for tomorrow’s mission was last used for Iridium’s second successful launch with SpaceX. This makes the company the first to launch aboard a first-stage booster flight-proven launching one of their own missions. Additionally, Iridium is set to launch their fifth set of satellites aboard another flight-proven Falcon 9. It is as yet unclear from what previous mission this booster will be chosen from.

“I believe that reusability is the future for satellite launches, and I think SpaceX has intelligently built their Falcon 9 program around this strategy,” Matt Desch.

SpaceX made another significant step towards reusability earlier this month with NASA’s CRS-13 launch. The International Space Station resupply mission was launched aboard not only a flight-proven booster but also a flight-proven dragon capsule. With testing of reusable fairing set to begin in 2018, SpaceX is well on its way to 100% reusability.

Image Credit: SpaceX

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.