Following up on its earlier success at NASA’s Cape Canaveral launch pad, SpaceX is set to send yet another rocket to space, and potentially achieving something that has yet to be seen in the space industry: re-using a rocket. Indeed, the Falcon 9 rocket set to be launched is the same that was used in the company’s historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
The rocket successfully managed to return and land, whilst the Dragon Capsule it was carrying returned to Earth last week after being loaded up with data and equipment from the astronauts on board the ISS.
After some minor repairs, the rocket is now set to be reused, as scientists, space enthusiasts as well as SpaceX’s own research and development team pay close attention to the launch. If the rocket is able to launch without any problems, it would revolutionize the space industry, and make the process behind organizing launches not only cheaper but a lot easier. 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.
SpaceX wouldn’t need to rebuild an entire rocket from scratch, reducing cost and ensuring a quick launch turnaround – if it is successful. Whilst an unproven flight of a reusable rocket may scare away potential companies from using them, Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES was quick to commit to the project, as its’ Chief Technology Officer, Martin Halliwell, explained in a statement released by the company.
“Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX’s first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket. We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight, and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management.”
SES has, in the past, been vocal about its desire to be part of the first attempt at reuse a rocket, and will get the opportunity to with SpaceX. The cargo on the Falcon 9’s second “maiden” voyage, is the SES-10 satellite, is expected to provide communications services to Latin America from geostationary orbit, 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.