NASA will rely on a previously used SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage booster next week to carry supplies to the International Space Station, marking a first for the agency.
The booster first flew in June on a mission to deliver supplies to the space station. After separating from the second stage, the booster returned to Earth for a landing at SpaceX’s landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
NASA officials discussed the decision at a meeting Wednesday of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA said in a statement that it participated in a “broad range of SpaceX data assessments and inspections” concerning the use of a previously launched first stage. Booster reuse for future NASA missions will be considered on a “case-by-case basis,” the agency said.
NASA had said over the summer that it wanted to take its time and review results before signing off on a used first-stage rocket for a space station resupply mission. Though this is the first time the agency will utilize a used SpaceX booster, NASA has used a refurbished Dragon cargo capsule to haul supplies to the space station.
SpaceX has launched three used first-stage boosters to date, all for commercial customers.