dglobalnews.com SpaceX Test Fires Falcon 9, Launch Weather 70% "GO'"
Published: Thu, March 30, 2017
Research | By Kayla Price

SpaceX Test Fires Falcon 9, Launch Weather 70% "GO'"

With the static fire wrapped on Monday, ground crews then rolled back the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket to its hangar near Launch Pad 39A, where the SES 10 communications satellite will be fitted atop the launch rocket.

Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt a historic landing of a reused rocket on Of Course I Still Love You. The ability to re-use Space's boosters promise to dramatically lower the cost of sending payloads to space.

The reuse of one of its rockets is a huge milestone for SpaceX, one that will basically prove the viability of the business strategy underpinning its very existence, and have a huge impact on the overall direction of the private space industry. 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.

Since its inception, SpaceX has been working toward developing reusable rockets.

SpaceX wouldn't need to rebuild an entire rocket from scratch, reducing cost and ensuring a quick launch turnaround - if it is successful.

SpaceX's landing platform is on the way to the landing zone a few hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral to receive the Falcon 9 first stage, which will again attempt a landing at sea after completing its two-and-a-half minute firing to push SES 10 toward space. We'll find out on Thursday whether that discount is worth it, with the rocket's launch window from 6:00PM EDT to 8:30PM EDT. SpaceX's customers have purchased the rocket services before launching satellites and supplies for space stations.

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During today's static fire test, the rocket's first and second stages are fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 propellants like an actual launch, and a simulated countdown is carried out to the point of a brief engine ignition.

SpaceX's first customer for such a rocket, the Luxembourg-based SES satellite company, prefers the term "flight-tested" to the word used. "So when we say "reusable rockets", ultimately, what the industry is building toward is a completely reusable rocket, so we'd reuse the first stage, the second stage, etc". Thanks to Elon Musk-owned SpaceX, we are about to witness a historical event this Thursday. According to the 45th Space Wing, the is a 70 percent chance of acceptable weather to launch.

Elon Musk is optimistic about rocket reusability, saying that most components could be used more than 100 times, and the parts that take the brunt of the damage on reentry, such as heat shields, could be used for around 10 to 15 launches.

"It certainly would be a step back for them, but I don't know if it necessarily means that they would be finished with that goal", Ostrove said.

The rocket was returned to Cape Canaveral, then trucked back to SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, for thorough inspections and refurbishment.

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