The Germany space agency DLR is beginning a study this month on a reusable launcher concept that would use a winged first-stage booster captured on descent by an aircraft and towed back to land.
Recent SpaceX and Blue Origin booster landings have reignited hopes that reusability can change the economics of space activity simply by switching from expendable to reusable launch vehicles.
Spanish startup PLD Space raised 9 million euros ($10.6 million) last month from public and private investors to develop a pair of reusable launch vehicles.
As SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 with a previously-flown first stage May 22, both the company and its competitors are seeing a growing acceptance of reusable vehicles in the overall market.
Blue Origin has added a fourth customer to its launch manifest for the still-in-development New Glenn rocket.
SpaceX intends to decrease launch costs over time but it will not offer deep discounts on preflown boosters while it strives to recover its investment in the technology, including ships, it relies on to make rockets reusable.
Spanish rocket startup PLD Space received 2 million euros ($2.4 million) from a European Commission grant program to further the development of a pair of launchers designed for small satellites.
A newer effort dubbed Callisto could test a European ability to launch, return and refly a rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in South America.
NASA may decide to allow SpaceX to use a previously-flown Falcon 9 first stage on the next Dragon mission to the International Space Station, the latest sign that SpaceX’s reusability efforts are winning broader acceptance in the market.
SpaceX completed its third launch with a previously used first stage booster Oct. 11, carrying a geostationary satellite for customers EchoStar and SES.
Europe’s upcoming Ariane 6 rocket, though designed to be expendable, could one day sport a reusable engine, according to Patrick Bonguet, head of the Ariane 6 program at ArianeGroup.
SpaceX intends to launch a final upgrade to the Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5, later this year, and has three Falcon Heavy launches planned for the next 17 months.
Military could have truly low-cost launch market in five years — if government puts in the effort, experts say
Experts foresee at least four companies with low-cost reusable launch technology.
A communications satellite built for a Bulgarian operator will be the second payload to launch on a previously-flown Falcon 9, that operator announced May 5.
SpaceX saw significant cost savings by reusing a Falcon 9 first stage in a launch last week, a key factor for the economic viability of reusable launch vehicles.
SpaceX plans to conduct the debut launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket this summer using two boosters that have already flown on other missions, SpaceX Founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk said March 30.