SpaceX Prepares to Relaunch a Used Rocket for the First Time
Elon Musk's quest to develop rapidly reusable rockets could spur a spaceflight revolution by slashing costs.
SpaceX will launch one of its used rockets on an orbital space mission this evening (March 30) for the first time ever, and you can watch the historic liftoff live.
The SES-10 communications satellite is scheduled to lift off atop SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket at 6:27 p.m. EDT (2227 GMT) today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch the spaceflight action — which will include an attempted landing by the booster's first stage — live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX, beginning at 6:07 p.m. EDT (2207 GMT).
You can also follow the mission directly via SpaceX here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast.
This will be the second orbital tour of duty for this Falcon 9 first stage. The booster helped launch SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station in April 2016, then came down for a pinpoint landing on a robotic "drone ship" in the Atlantic Ocean about 8 minutes after liftoff.
The first stage will attempt another drone-ship landing this evening, SpaceX representatives have said.
Such touchdowns are part of SpaceX's quest to develop rapidly reusable rockets, a technology that company founder and CEO Elon Musk has said could spur a spaceflight revolution by slashing costs. SpaceX has landed eight Falcon 9 first stages to date, but this evening's mission marks the first flight of a used booster.
The SES-10 satellite will be operated by Luxembourg-based company SES, and will provide broadcast services to people across Latin America.
This evening's launch will be SpaceX's third from Kennedy Space Center's historic Launch Complex 39A, which hosted most of NASA's Apollo moon mission and space shuttle liftoffs. SpaceX signed a 20-year lease to use the pad in 2014.
The SES-10 mission is not the only spaceflight action on tap today. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson are scheduled to venture outside the International Space Station at around 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT) on a 6.5-hour spacewalk.
"Thursday's spacewalk will see Whitson and Kimbrough finish cable connections at the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 just recently attached to the Harmony module's space-facing port," NASA officials wrote in an update. "The PMA-3 relocation gets the station ready for the new International Docking Adapter-3 set to be delivered on a future SpaceX Dragon cargo mission."
The spacewalk will be Whitson's eighth — the most ever for a female astronaut, NASA officials said. Whitson had shared that mark with NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. (The overall record for most spacewalks is 16, held by cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev.)
Spacewalk coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT). You can watch it on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.
Originally published on Space.com.