SpaceX broke its record of commercial reuse of Falcon 9 with the successful launch on December 13 of the latest Sirius XM radio satellite while simultaneously appearing to reuse a gift in customer missions.

Weighing about 7 metric tons (about 15,400 lb) at takeoff, the SXM-7 spacecraft was carried aloft by the Falcon 9 Booster B1051, marking the seventh successful launch and landing of the missile and the first time that SpaceX used four and five flights, or six booster flights On a non-Starlink assignment.

The readiness of customers Maxar and Sirius XM is a major secondary benefit for the launch of SpaceX’s indoor space range of Starlink, of which the company completed 14 of them in 2020 alone. With this overwhelming number of largely 100% indoor launches, SpaceX was able to quickly push the envelope of reuse of the Falcon 9, flying the reinforcements on its sixth and seventh missions for the first time. In 2020, despite the debut of four new boosters, this wealth of Starlink opportunities means that the average booster supporting every 25 SpaceX launch (up to) has completed 3.5 flights.

Thanks to the huge number of in-house launch opportunities available to SpaceX, the company has been able to demonstrate the reliability of the new levels of reuse of the Falcon 9. In other words, while Sirius XM and Maxar are the first commercial customers to fly the payload on the seventh launch of the Falcon 9, SpaceX has launched Indeed, several Falcon 9 boosters have landed a fifth and sixth time – and one for the seventh time just weeks before – before commercial debut.

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The same is true even more with reuse, as the SXM-7 marked SpaceX’s first commercial hawk half-show ever, despite the fact that the SXM-7 was also its 14th half being reused overall. At this point in time, SpaceX is unequivocally the only company on Earth to perform orbital-class operational flight tests. With such comprehensive data on fully accurate flight tests available, convincing commercial customers of the validity of flight-proven devices is likely a much easier task.

SpaceX has likely reused half of the T / E side gift seen here on the SXM-7, although both halves were spotted in Gift Recovery for the first time on July 21. (Richard Angel)
The reused metallic half appears again on the T / E side of the Falcon 9 before the launch of the SXM-7 on December 13th. (Richard Angel)

This prior knowledge will also likely allow SpaceX to offer or confidently negotiate discounts with customers wishing to be the first non-Starlink payload to use. NFlight booster or gift. For example, to reuse only half of one offer, at a cost of $ 2.5 million to replace SpaceX, the company might offer Sirus XM and Maxar a discount of between $ 500,000 – $ 1,000,000 + and have flight data on hand to prove that reusing half the offer won’t add up to the catch in The sea is a palpable risk of mission failure or satellite pollution.

Being the first customer to fire a six-flight enhanced Falcon 9, the Sirius XM likely received a larger $ 5–10 million discount. SpaceX – Starlink’s in-house launch cost is thought to be $ 15 million or less excluding satellite production – it almost certainly remains profitable despite offering the world’s likely lowest launch cost of a multi-ton geostationary satellite by a large margin.

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Falcon 9 B1051.6 is preparing, a new high stage and a 50% gift for the launch of the SXM-7. (Richard Angel)

Meanwhile, thanks to the B1051’s successful seventh landing, SpaceX has two Falcon seven-flight boosters that can be used to propel the casing to eight, nine, ten and possibly more than launches in 2021.