SpaceX has always touted its development of reusable rockets, and since its founding in 2002 has landed the first stages of Falcon 9 in eight orbital missions. Propellant was loaded around 17:00 UTC and rocket was waiting for test remaining at LC-39A without SES-10 satellite, which still was waiting for assembling at Launch Complex 40. Also, reusable rockets will shave off a significant financial part of future space missions, making rockets to be used as airplanes.
To date, SpaceX has landed three Falcon 9 boosters on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and several boosters on two drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean. And a customer was waiting and willing to make history again with SpaceX. With a goal of reusing boosters 15 to 20 times each, this brings the cost of launching satellites, resupplying ISS, and eventually sending people up atop a SpaceX rocket a lot more affordable. The added risk from rockets that have already flown comes with a price discount for companies looking for a ticket-albeit now a small one as the tech is still in development. The price difference was "hundredths of a percent", Halliwell said.
Assuming analysis of telemetry confirms good performance, SpaceX should be clear to press ahead with plans to launch the SES-10 relay station Thursday at 6 p.m., the opening of a two-and-a-half-hour window. But rockets lofting payloads to distant orbits generally don't have enough fuel left to make it all the way back to terra firma, so they land on autonomous "drone ships" at sea.
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. It will be the beginning of the end for throwing away tens of millions of dollars each launch. After each launch, SpaceX tries to save just the first stage of its vehicles.
SES is highly confident that the previously flown Falcon booster will offer a safe ride for the almost 12,000-pound SES-10 spacecraft, which will provide TV and Internet services in Latin America.
This week's mission is a chance for SpaceX to prove that their efforts will pay off after years of work toward reusability, said Justin Karl, program coordinator of Commercial Space Operations at Embry-Riddle.
"We could open the space frontier", says Braun, who added that reusing the entire rocket would mean even greater cost savings. "So in terms of the investment required, I would think it would be the most straightforward and the lowest investment".