SpaceX launch of pre-flown booster 'exciting step forward,' SES CTO says

The SES 10 communications satellite, owned by SES of Luxembourg, will provide direct-to-home TV broadcasting and other telecommunication services for Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

A static fire engine test was conducted Monday and the spacecraft was being matted to the Falcon 9 on Tuesday ahead of the launch.

A few days before SpaceX is set to make history by launching a "flight-proven" Flacon 9 booster, the satellite company paying for the ride into space has no pre-launch jitters about flying on some used hardware. At present although the cost of a new airliner is about the same as a Falcon 9 rocket, a commercial airliner can be used for tens of thousands of flights over its lifetime, whereas a traditional space-faring rocket is used just the once. This means that this rocket could potentially make more tours of space in the future if everything goes according to plan. "This is a hugely exciting part of the mission for SES, SpaceX and the industry, in general". Launched on April 8th, 2016, the rocket lofted almost 7,000 pounds of supplies to the crew of the space station, including a new inflatable habitat, and then landed on one of SpaceX's drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Reusability will make possible the necessary financial realities outlined by Elon Musk past year when he described SpaceX's plan to get to Mars, and will help the company continue to undercut competitors for commercial launches while still making money in the process. SpaceX rival Blue Origin already has reused a first stage from its New Shepard rocket, though that did not reach orbit, and did not carry a payload, as the Falcon 9 is doing.

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The two and a half-hour launch window opens at 6:27 p.m. Thursday. This was the first time SpaceX used Launch Complex 39A since leasing it from NASA in 2014. We'll be watching - as always, ad astra, SpaceX!

The Falcon 9 rocket was originally launched in April 2016.

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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The first stage of the Falcon rocket being tested today launched an ISS resupply mission almost a year ago. The company has said that the turn-around time for reuse is actually closer to four months. Satellites bound for low-Earth orbit do not typically require as much launch power and the booster has enough propellant left over to fly back to a powered touchdown on land.

Halliwell said the recovered stage was subjected to exhaustive tests and checkout and that SES engineers and insurers followed along every step of the way.

SpaceX, founded by CEO Musk in 2002, builds the Falcon 9 as well as the rocket's Merlin engines in-house, taking a Silicon Valley approach to constant improvements and a tight collaboration between design and manufacturing.

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