SpaceX to Refly Falcon 9 First Stage on Thursday

Falcon 9 first stage after landing on drone ship (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX looks to make history on Thursday by re-flying a Falcon 9 first stage for the first time.

Elon Musk’s company is targeting a 6 p.m. EDT liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The booster is carrying the SES-10 communications satellite.

The refurbished first stage was used to launch a Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station last April. The stage landed on a drone ship off shore.

A brief static fire of the first stage’s 9 Merlin 1-D engines is scheduled for today.

  • Rob

    I thought it was Wednesday the 29th? It has been changed to Thursday the 30th?

  • Douglas Messier

    Yes. Got delayed a day. I think static fire scheduled for Sunday was delayed until today.

  • Vladislaw
  • Aerospike

    This is going to be exciting! 🙂

  • JamesG

    One way or another… 😉

  • Flechette

    I wonder what the refurbishment cost was.

  • WhoAmI

    Same question here and would like to know some details on the refurbishment too.

    Also, why is it taking almost a year to reuse if it only took 4 months to refurbish? Perhaps, it had to do with customer launch priority verses the backlog on the manifest. The explosion in September didn’t help either.

  • ReSpaceAge

    With the learning curve involved I don’t think the Person/hours involved would tell us much at this point.

  • JamesG

    Mostly the backlog and the lack of launch sites.

  • ReSpaceAge

    I think it it is funny that this is considered a historic event.

    NASA few shuttles over and over with lots of success.

    So the relaunch of this first booster really isn’t that big a deal.

    I was at Jetty Park the last time SpaceX launched and dropped one back to earth. I was struck with the feeling that this is just what rockets do. like airplanes. they launch they land.

    This year we will see more and more used junk rockets flown. Then SpaceX will upgrade to F9 V5

    With each recovery and return to flight lessons will be learned processes Will be improved. Refurbish costs will drop. SpaceX will make more profit with each reused flight.

    We won’t know the moment that reused rockets became truly profitable.

    But it will happen soon.

  • Emmet Ford

    They removed and closely inspected all the engines. That much I have read. It is safe to assume that much of the rocket stage was closely inspected in an exploratory fashion by very qualified people utilizing lots of fancy laboratory equipment. So it is likely that the refurbishment cost approached or even exceeded the cost of manufacturing a new stage. Because this is the first one of its kind, they need to establish a baseline of expectations, and it would be really nice for the first reflight to succeed. Really nice.

  • windbourne

    I suspect spacex has a very good idea of what they are. Grasshopper comes quickly to mind. In addition, block 5 is about performance improvement s, but also about longevity improvements. IOW, they already know their cost issues and have designed around them.

  • windbourne

    Used junk?

  • windbourne

    Lots of inspections, and testing. And when these come back, it will be torn apart again to make sure of what issues they have.

  • windbourne

    Yup. Exactly that.

  • Jeff2Space

    The space shuttle was not a liquid fueled first stage. Yes, it held the engines, but the system threw away the External Tank on each and every flight.

    It’s worth noting that each External Tank cost more money to build (on the order of $200 million each) than SpaceX charges its customers for a Falcon 9 launch ($62 million). In fact, if Falcon Heavy costs what SpaceX is currently advertising ($90 million), that’s about half the cost of one space shuttle External Tank.

    Reusing Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy stages will enable SpaceX to reduce the pressure on their production lines and help to increase their Falcon 9 and (hopefully) Falcon Heavy flight rate.

  • Jeff2Space

    More like flight proven hardware.

  • Jeff2Space

    The potential cost savings isn’t as important as the fact that reusing stages takes pressure off their production lines. So even if SpaceX saves no money reusing stages, it will allow them to greatly increase their flight rate. They need to do that to work off their backlog of launches.

  • ReSpaceAge

    obsolete/undesirable, till they get to F9 V5 therefore junk

  • ReSpaceAge

    Agree

    My general point is that this “milestone” of reflying rocket engines/system has already been done, therefore not likely to fail.
    It is just another small step in the development process of affordable reusable rockets which will quietly soon just become a reality.

    Kinda like, one day we will have pocket computers!!!
    oh, my phone IS a pocket computer.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Still need more pads to deal with traffic. I still think only 14 this year next year maybe more than 20.

  • Jeff2Space

    The have one operational pad in Florida (the former shuttle pad at KSC). Once they repair the pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, they’ll have two Florida pads.

    Due to the lower demand for polar and sun-synchronous orbits, the one pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base should be sufficient for the foreseeable future.