SpaceX, a private rocket and spacecraft maker, wants to put an "x" through space junk.
Its own space junk, at least.
The company, also known as Space Exploration Technologies, will attempt to build a multi-stage rocket that would return to earth after putting a spacecraft into orbit, allowing it to be reused for multiple missions, drastically cutting the cost of spaceflight the Associated Press reports.
Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, announced the ambitious plan in a speech at the National Press Club on September 29, and called the reusable rocket the "pivotal breakthrough that's necessary...to make life multi-planetary."
According to the AP, Musk said that after they put their payload into orbit, the booster's two stages would use their rockets to return to the launch site.
The company released an animation of the proposed design (available below), which Musk said was 90 percent accurate.
A totally reusable rocket would greatly reduce the cost of spaceflight. A conventional rocket is used once: As fuel is used up each stage falls away and burns up on descent through the atmosphere or remains in orbit as junk.
Musk said a Falcon 9 costs about $50 million to $60 million but the cost of fuel and oxygen for a launch is only about $200,000.
"So obviously if we can reuse the rocket, say a thousand times, then that would make the capital cost of the rocket per launch only about $50,000," he said.
In December, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch a capsule into orbit and guide it back to earth.
The company's Falcon 9 was supposed to carry a payload to the International Space Station next month, but the launch has been delayed until at least December 19, UniverseToday reports.
In addition to being the co-founder of SpaceX, Musk also co-founded Tesla Motors and PayPal.
According to the AP, Musk didn't present a timeline or estimate a cost associated with the reusable booster's development.
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