Speaking at the ISS R&D 2017 conference in Washington D.C. Wednesday, SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk revealed that the company plans to be able to recover and reuse a Falcon 9 first stage in as little as 24 hours by 2018. The company also hopes to finish its development of fairing recovery by the end of this year. With a dozen launches scheduled for the rest of 2017, SpaceX will have quite an array of attempts to hone its rocket recovery and reuse skills.
Musk also explored his feelings about Falcon Heavy, once again expressing the realization that developing the heavy lift vehicle was far more difficult than simply attaching three boosters. SpaceX has had to cope with intense acoustic and vibrational environments, as well as the massive loads the center core must survive. Musk spoke extremely frankly with the audience, stating that he would consider the inaugural launch a success if Falcon Heavy failed without causing damage to the launch pad. He later deemed the first humans who choose to launch aboard a Falcon Heavy “brave”.
SpaceX’s next dozen launches will begin with CRS-12 on August 10th and Formosat on August 24th, with one more August launch also a possibility. Stay tuned for more ISS R&D coverage.