Spaceflight company SpaceX will attempt the first launch of an already-used rocket on Thursday.
Spaceflight Now reports that a “flight-proven” Falcon 9 rocket will be fired up during a 2.5-hour launch window which starts at 6 p.m. EDT on Thursday. The rocket’s first stage booster already completed a static fire test on Monday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A.
The static fire test created about 1.7 million pounds of thrust, fueled by RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants. Mission engineers will review the data from the successful static fire test to clear the rocket for its full launch.
The Falcon 9’s first stage is the part being reused; its second stage is new and will be single-use for the moment.
The Falcon 9 will carry an SES 10 communications satellite weighing some 11,700 pounds. The Luxembourg-based SES, a telecom satellite operator, agreed last August to send its satellite into orbit on a Falcon 9 with a previously used first stage.
The Falcon 9’s first stage will separate after a 2.5-minute burn to send the satellite on its trajectory towards orbit. The separated rocket stage will land at sea, where a newly developed robot will secure the booster on board a drone barge.
SpaceX plans to launch as many as six used boosters in 2017. At the very least, the first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will include one or two reused boosters.
A successful launch and recovery of a used rocket will serve as a proof of concept for SpaceX’s plans to reuse rockets as a way to save on spaceflight costs.