Launch, Land, Launch - SpaceX Tries Reusing Its Rocket

30 March 2017, 01:35 | Shawn Tate

After they jettisoned from the sides of the liquid fuel tank that supported the Shuttle's flight to orbit, they parachuted down to splash into the ocean, and then were retrieved and brought back to land by ships to be used again for a future mission.

"With the launch this week, what's being reused is the first stage", * a href="*" *Bobby Braun, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, told Gizmodo. That way, the company can save on manufacturing a completely new vehicle, and potentially lower the cost of each mission. Demonstration flights are crucial to ensure that the rocket systems work, but they are also risky considering that the tests may go wrong.

SES has three more launches pending with SpaceX, two of which could fly on used boosters.

Scheduled to depart from pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the rocket was due to launch tomorrow, but following the test the company tweeted, "there was a tiny glitch in the motion of an upper stage engine actuator". Inmarsat is a SpaceX customer, and Franci says if launch costs come down, companies like his could launch more satellites, more often and build a better network.

The customer flying on this first "flight-proven" rocket is SES, a satellite operator based out of Luxembourg.

Once in Earth orbit, SES-10 will expand communication coverage primarily for HD video in Latin America for SES.

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. However, a rocket explosion on September 1 delayed the preparations.

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"Whenever there is a failure, we have some trepidation and we will engage with that launch provider to mitigate that", he said. "We were waving our hands to be the first". Payer was also questioned about the rocket explosion last September. "These things happen. (The explosion) has not, at all, rattled our confidence in what SpaceX is doing".

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company, Bezos Expeditions.

"The first stage booster has a contractual obligation to meet a certain velocity, altitude, etc", Halliwell said. It'll be interesting to see how this rocket fares after its second launch.

On Thursday, for the first time, the private spaceflight company will attempt to reuse a previously flown rocket booster to deliver a satellite to orbit. However, engineers found that this was harder than they expected. For the SES-10 mission, SpaceX will attempt to land the stage on a droneship stationed several hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral, but it's far from a sure bet. The system is being created to use three boosters, and it will further reduce launch costs.

Halliwell said the delay did cost the company money but that they tried to move on quickly once they were reassured by SpaceX.

Musk has long promoted the concept of "rapid reusability", saying it does not make sense to throw rockets away after a single flight.

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