SpaceX has completed a sensitive mission for the US military to the satisfaction of Elon Musk. It was the fifth mission of 2017 that met with success, and it involved landing of the booster of the rocket on land. The rocket was a Falcon 9 rocket that was loaded with a special payload of the National Reconnaissance Office.

It lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the activity was delayed by 24 hours because of a technical problem related to a sensor. Nine minutes after liftoff, the rocket's first stage came back to Earth, and that was a feat SpaceX had accomplished for the first time in December 2015.

Elon Musk is satisfied with the progress

New Zealand Herald reports that Elon Musk is determined to make space travel more affordable and the objective of SpaceX was to reuse the rockets by refurbishing instead of discarding them after a single mission.

Musk was satisfied with the exercise and has commented on Twitter that the launch and landing of the NRO spy satellite were good. Just before lift-off, he had indicated that the wind velocity was high. It was a matter of worry but not something that would pose a major obstacle.

Falcon 9 rocket won US Air Force certification for national security space missions in May 2015 and surged ahead in a field that used to be the domain of names like Boeing and Lockheed.

It has already bagged high-value contracts for military launches that include communication satellites for use on the battlefields.

The future of SpaceX

SpaceX believes that reusable rockets are among one of the means to reduce the launch costs and thereby allow for easy access to space. The certification process has to be done by the US Air Force, and it has to ensure proper accountability of hardware so that the launch of national security space systems are safe and secure.

NASA has already contracted with the firm for resupply missions to the International Space Station by making use of an unmanned Dragon spacecraft. Also, there is a requirement to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS using another version of Dragon suitably equipped to take over the task of transporting the crew members. The plans of SpaceX are for 20 to 24 missions in 2017 for customers like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and commercial satellite operators.

Space research is an expensive affair, and there are always problems of finance. Therefore, one of the solutions is to rope in a private financier like Elon Musk. He understands the subject, is willing to invest in the future and is not tied down by compulsions or policies because it is he who formulates the policies.