SpaceX Eyes Spaceport America for Testing Recovered Boosters

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

NASASpaceflight.com reports SpaceX is eying its test site at Spaceport America for putting recovered Falcon 9 first stages through their paces:

The New Mexico spaceport will host the recovered booster – potentially the core stage from the upcoming CRS-6 mission, if recovered – for an additional flight to find hardware limits, paving the way for the first full reuse of a stage during a future launch in 2016….

Those tests will be used to find hardware limits, such as how many cycles can be put on a stage, while the second successfully recovered booster would provide the role of qualification testing.

Should the recovery efforts progress, the first launch of a reused booster is likely to occur in late 2016.

Another major milestone in the reusability path will be a stage returning to land, with the earliest planned attempt – should all testing go to plan ahead of the mission – being the Jason-3 launch in the summer.

This would result in the stage returning for a landing at SLC-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This will be at the mercy of SpaceX’s confidence levels, and a second ASDS, based on the West Coast, has already been confirmed.

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