KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The moment of truth is rapidly approaching as SpaceX attempts the world’s first reflight of an orbital class rocket later today, Thursday, March 30, with the firms Falcon 9 standing proudly at historic launch complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida – ready to deliver an advanced TV broadcast satellite to orbit for the America’s for telecom giant SES.
If successful, the launch will mightily advance billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s bold vision to slash launch costs by recovering and reusing spent first stage rockets from his firms Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
“The SES-10 mission will mark a historic milestone on the road to full and rapid reusability,” say Space officials.
“We are confident in this booster,” SES CTO Martin Halliwell told Universe Today at a press briefing on March 28.
The milestone SpaceX mission destined to refly the first ever ‘used rocket’ is slated for lift off on Thursday, March 30, at 6:27 p.m. EDT carrying the SES-10 telecommunications payload to orbit atop a ‘Flight-Proven’ Falcon 9 rocket from seaside Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
So, if you want to witness this truly magnificent event in space history with your own eyes, there’s only a few hours left for you to ‘Get Your Ass to KSC!’ to paraphrase Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.
The nearly six ton SES-10 satellite will provide significantly improved TV, voice, data and maratime service to over 37 million customers across Central and South America.
Eventually, Musk hopes to help establish a ‘City on Mars’ by building Interplanetary Colonial Transporters to transport human settlers to live on the Red Planet – the most Earth-like world in our Solar System.
You can watch the launch live on a SpaceX dedicated webcast starting about 20 minutes prior to the 6:27 pm EDT or 10:27 pm UTC liftoff time.
The two and a half hour launch window closes at 9:57 p.m. EDT.
Watch the SpaceX broadcast live at: SpaceX.com/webcast
The weather outlook is glorious along the Florida Space Coast with an 80% chance of favorable conditions at launch time in the latest AF prognosis.
However for the back-up launch date on Friday, the outlook worsens considerable to only 40% favorable.
“This thing is good to go!” Halliwell told me.
The Falcon 9 booster to be recycled was initially launched in April 2016 for NASA on the SpaceX Dragon CRS-8 resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract for the space agency.
The 156 foot tall first stage was recovered about eight and a half minutes after liftoff via a pinpoint propulsive soft landing on an tiny ocean going droneship prepositioned in the Atlantic Ocean some 400 miles (600 km) off the US East coast.
If all goes well SpaceX will also attempt to re-land the Falcon 9 first stage on an oceangoing barge for an unprecedented second time, provided there are sufficient fuel reserves remaining after accomplishing its primary mission of delivering SES-10 to GTO, Halliwell stated.
The SES-10 launch comes barely 2 weeks after the prior SpaceX launch of EchoStar XXIII on March 16.
SpaceX, founded by billionaire and CEO Elon Musk, inked a deal in August 2016 with telecommunications giant SES, to refly a ‘Flight-Proven’ Falcon 9 booster.
Luxembourg-based SES and Hawthrone, CA-based SpaceX jointly announced the agreement to “launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster.”
The flight proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will deliver SES-10 to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
SES-10 has a launch mass of 5,300 kg or 11,700 pounds, which includes the dry mass and propellant.
The spacecraft utilizes for both chemical propulsion for orbit raising and electric propulsion for station keeping.
SES-10 will replace AMC-3 and AMC-4 to provide enhanced coverage and significant capacity expansion over Latin America, says SES.
“The satellite will be positioned at 67 degrees West, pursuant to an agreement with the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru), and will be used for the Simón Bolivar 2 satellite network.”
Up to 3 additional SES satellites could launch on SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets by the end of this year.
Watch for Kens’ continuing coverage direct from onsite at the Kennedy Space Center press site and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
Learn more about SpaceX SES-10, EchoStar 23 and CRS-10 launches to ISS, ULA SBIRS GEO 3 launch, GOES-R launch, Heroes and Legends at KSCVC, OSIRIS-REx, InSight Mars lander, Juno at Jupiter, SpaceX AMOS-6, ISS, ULA Atlas and Delta rockets, Orbital ATK Cygnus, Boeing, Space Taxis, Mars rovers, Orion, SLS, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL:
Mar 31, Apr 1: “SpaceX SES-10, EchoStar 23, CRS-10 launch to ISS, ULA Atlas SBIRS GEO 3 launch, GOES-R weather satellite launch, OSIRIS-Rex, SpaceX and Orbital ATK missions to the ISS, Juno at Jupiter, ULA Delta 4 Heavy spy satellite, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings