Launch, Land, Launch - SpaceX Tries Reusing Its Rocket
Video Caption: SpaceX Falcon 9 hot fire test on March 27, 2017 for SES-10 launch on March 30 on KSC Pad 39A. While the refurb jobs have been strenuously tested by SpaceX, there are never any guarantees, and the company has lost even brand new rockets in launch mishaps a few times in the past. The company was recently awarded its second contract to fly missions for the U.S. Air Force and plans to send two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year. About 10 minutes or so after each launch, the first stage separates from the top portion of the rocket and makes a controlled dive back to Earth. SES, which has flown with SpaceX twice before, was the first commercial satellite operator to launch with the company back in 2013.
In the future, this kind of refurbishment shouldn't take this long.
Martin Halliwell, CTO of SES, talks about flying their payload on a historic refurbished booster for the upcoming launch. SpaceX is scheduled to launch the Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center on March 29 at 4:59pm EST.
The long-awaited day is finally upon us.
From the moment SpaceX was founded in 2002, Musk and his team have been working toward this moment.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX CEO said that reusing boosters could give its customers a 30 percent discount on a Falcon 9 rocket launch, which now costs up to $62 million.
Space X is one of several companies involved in pioneering reusable rockets which, if successful, will make space flight much more affordable.
"It's obviously pretty important for them", Bill Ostrove, an aerospace and defense industry analyst at Forecast International, said in an interview.
The common thinking is that reusing rockets, rather than discarding them after every launch as we do now, could revolutionize spaceflight and significantly drive down costs.
"SpaceX has been promising this type of reusability for some time now", Karl said.
Not only is this Falcon 9 rocket launching for a second time, but it's landing again, too. SpaceX will be launching a payload into orbit, and it will be doing so for a commercial, paying customer during an active mission. Company CEO Elon Musk has been dreaming about reusable rockets since the company's inception 15 years ago, when there was only a Falcon LV-which later became the Falcon 1 Musk proudly displayed on the Washington, D.C. National Mall in 2003.
Multiple companies - like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance - are also aiming for some type of reusability in their rockets. If successful, Thursday's launch moves the idea from the realm of fantasy to reality.
According to Ostrove, if the launch fails, it wouldn't necessarily be the end of the world for SpaceX.
"This is a really really exciting step forward", Halliwell said. "So in terms of the investment required, I would think it would be the most straightforward and the lowest investment".
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