SES this week hopes to see its SES-10 communications satellite become the first payload delivered to orbit by a rocket booster that has already completed an orbital launch. On Tuesday, SpaceX conducted a successful static fire test of the Falcon 9 booster on pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
This launching event is significant for SpaceX which plans to relaunch its spaceships several times, reusing them to reduce the costs and offer them more opportunities for space exploration and transportation. The rocket stage being used was used a year ago to launch a payload to the International Space Station (ISS). The rocket that it has chosen for this mission previously flew on a resupply mission to the International Space Station in April a year ago. This is a massive milestone in SpaceX's reusable rocket program.
The fuel-carrying boosters detach from the space rocket body and fall back to earth once their cargo is safely in orbit.
SpaceX, founded by billionaire and CEO Elon Musk, inked a deal in August 2016 with telecommunications giant SES, to refly a "Flight-Proven" Falcon 9 booster.
The Falcon 9 first stage booster from SpaceX's CRS-8 launch stands proudly upright on the deck of the "Of Course I Still Love You". The launch window is open from 6:00-8:30 pm ET.
"With the launch this week, what's being reused is the first stage", * a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=bobby+braun+colorado&*" *Bobby Braun, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Gizmodo. From 2012 to 2014, the private spaceflight company collected data from 12 flight tests and landings of the 106-foot Grasshopper rocket and a larger Falcon 9 Reusable Development Vehicle (F9R Dev). The maiden launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, driven by three Falcon 9 rocket cores strapped together, is expected to utilize one or two previously-flown boosters, but SpaceX has not publicly identified other missions that will reuse rocket stages.
The Falcon 9's first stage is the part being reused; its second stage is new and will be single-use for the moment. We'll be watching - as always, ad astra, SpaceX!
"I think the whole industry is looking", he said.
This is the goal that the rocket startup has been working towards since its inception - reusable, affordable space travel. Forecasters are predicting an 80 percent chance of acceptable weather.
"This is a really really exciting step forward", Halliwell said. Satellites bound for low-Earth orbit do not typically require as much launch power and the booster has enough propellant left over to fly back to a powered touchdown on land. This is highly unusual, as generally most of the rocket parts crash into the ocean, forever sinking at the bottom.