SpaceX Eyes Reusing Dragons, Additional Landing Pads

Cameras on the Canadarm2 show the SpaceX Dragon as it departs the vicinity of the space station just after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)
Cameras on the Canadarm2 show the SpaceX Dragon as it departs the vicinity of the space station just after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)

With SpaceX planning to relaunch a Falcon 9 first stage later this year, the age of reusing rockets is upon us. But, the company isn’t stopping there.

SpaceX is planning to launch a reused Dragon supply ship on a cargo mission next year. Officials discussed the planned flight during a post-launch press conference on Monday morning.

“I think we’re looking at SpaceX-11,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA’s deputy manager of ISS utilization, referring to the 11th resupply mission the company will fly with Dragon and the Falcon 9. (Monday’s launch kicked off SpaceX-9.)

“I thought it was 11 or 12 — something like that,” replied Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of flight reliability at SpaceX. “So, not too far from now.”

SpaceX-11 is currently scheduled to lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in February 2017, and SpaceX-12 is slated to launch two months later, according to Spaceflight Now.

The Orlando Sentinel also reports that SpaceX is requesting permission from the federal government to establish two additional first-stage landing facilities on Cape Canaveral. The pads would be for landing the three Falcon 9 first stages that are used on the Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.