SpaceX 1st Launch of Flight Proven Falcon 9, Mar 2017, KSC

Alicia Guzman
March 30, 2017

SpaceX is all set to make history on Thursday, March 30th, when they plan to launch their first reusable rocket.

It's the first attempt to demonstrate a capability the company has worked toward since its founding in 2002.

The two and a half-hour launch window opens at 6:27 p.m. Thursday.

SpaceX is targeting a 6 p.m. Thursday launch from Kennedy Space Center of a Falcon 9 rocket whose first stage launched for the first time almost a year ago.

This is a very big deal, indeed. In fact, he said, the rocket was deemed in such good shape it's virtually identical to a new booster, other than being "a bit sooty" after its fiery return to Earth. By some estimates, being able to reuse the first stage of the rocket and paying for minor repairs could save between ten and one hundred million dollars per launch. Out of 13 attempts, eight of the rockets have stuck the touchdown. The separated rocket stage will land at sea, where a newly developed robot will secure the booster on board a drone barge.

Describing the achievement in terms of firsts requires a few careful qualifiers.

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SpaceX is about to put the heart of its business model to the test: Reusable rockets. Ideally, the turnaround time between launch and landing should be pretty brief, involving a quick checkout of the booster and refueling before its next launch.

No, it still is!

SpaceX is taking the concept of "reduce-reuse-recycle" to another level. But the program's original reusability ambitions were never realized. Development on this technology is going on for a long time.

Multiple companies - like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance - are also aiming for some type of reusability in their rockets.

That discount should become steeper on future flights, according to SpaceX officials. But SpaceX officials have been quoted as saying the savings could be between 10 to 30 percent.

The list price for a Falcon 9 flight to geostationary orbit is $62 million.

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At the moment, the aerospace industry essentially throws away its hefty rockets. A light enough payload allows the company to add landing legs and grid fins, as well as hold back some fuel for the descent.

The CTO said the company then had to explain to their insurance company "Yes, we believe in this" to get the go ahead for insuring the SES-10 launch.

Where did this particular booster come from?


The rocket will be a Falcon 9 that was used last April to send a cargo capsule to the International Space Station. This isn't just a regular launch for Elon Musk and the gang.

Successful landings depend in large part on the rocket's payload and destination.

A rendering of the SES-10 satellite on-screen. It's a communications satellite that will serve all of Latin America. "Probably not a flight risk, but still worth investigating".

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As SpaceX begins to prepare for Thursday's launch, we are all on the edge of our seats. Since then, it has been subjected to exhaustive tests and checkout, including an engine test firing Monday, to clear the way for its second launch. And if you veer off-course - you guessed it - you'll crash. The up-arrow controls the rocket's thrusters; tapping the left- or right-arrow keys helps line up the rocket to land on the ship.

Other reports by Info About Network

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