Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

We don’t have an official launch date for SpaceX’s historic rocket relaunch yet, but it could be as early as March 29. During this flight, which will take the SES-10 satellite into geostationary orbit, the company plans to reuse the Falcon 9 first stage booster that successfully landed on a drone ship last April. That landing came after the Falcon 9 lifted a freighter to the International Space Station.

Here’s what we know so far about the impending launch: It can’t happen any earlier than March 29, because the launch of an Atlas V rocket has been pushed back to March 27, and it takes about 48 hours for the Air Force to deploy its downrange tracking system. reconfigured for a launch from a different path. Further changes to Atlas’ launch schedule could push SpaceX’s launch to early April.

The missile appears ready to launch. According to NASASpaceflight.com, a static fire test is not scheduled until March 26. One problem was flipping the company’s recently commissioned Launch Pad 39A complex, which was recently used in the launch of an EchoStar satellite on March 16. But that site has reportedly now been cleared for reuse.

The payload, an SES-10 communications satellite, is already fueled and ready for use. After launch, the booster will direct it toward an orbital trajectory, and the second stage will push the satellite into a geostationary trajectory. Meanwhile, the first stage will try again to return to Earth. Ars has confirmed that the repurposed Falcon 9 booster will attempt a second drone landing.

SpaceX has returned more than half a dozen rockets by land and sea, but it has yet to demonstrate that it has the equally critical capability to fly a rocket again. The vertical take-off and landing of rockets has long been a holy grail of the aerospace industry, as it offers the promise of reusability and low-cost rockets. Blue Origin accomplished this a year ago with its smaller, suborbital New Shepard rocket. Now if SpaceX can do the same with the beefier, orbital Falcon 9 rocket, it will make a strong statement that the future is in rocket recycling, rather than spending them after a single launch.

Frame image by SpaceX

By akfire1

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