SpaceX successfully launched the SES10 communications satellite on Thursday evening, with its reused first stage performing as expected and landing on an off-shore drone ship.
In a brief statement during the live webcast, SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk called the flight a historic day for the company and the space industry. It had taken 15 years to get to this moment, he said.
In a video prior to launch, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the company spent about four months refurbishing and testing the first stage booster after it landed on the drone ship after launching a Dragon resupply vehicle to the International Space Station last April. That flight marked the first time a first stage had landed on the drone ship.
Shotwell said the company’s eventual goal is to land the first stage, refuel the booster, and then launch it again the same day. She did not give a time table for when such a flight would be possible.
Musk has said that such a rapid turnaround is crucial to making first-stage reuse truly economical and significantly bringing down the cost of launches.
SpaceX does not recover the second stage of the Falcon 9 booster. So any same-day re-flight would include the installation of a new second stage as well as the payload.
There were reports that SpaceX would attempt to recover the payload shroud used for Thursday’s launch for later reuse. There is no word yet on whether that effort was successful.
SpaceX is set to launch its Falcon 9 booster with the SES-10 communications satellite tonight at 6:27 pm EDT (3:27 pm PDT, 10:27pm UTC). It will be the first attempt to launch a used first stage booster. SpaceX will stream the launch at www.spacex.com.
The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2017 Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST)
2016 Launch Events
Space launch activity worldwide is carried out by the civil, military, and commercial sectors. This section summarizes U.S. and international orbital launch activities for calendar year 2016, including launches licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST). Countries and jurisdictions worldwide that possess functional and operating indigenous launch industries are the United States, Russia, China, European Union, India, Japan, Israel, Iran, North Korea, and South Korea. Several other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Indonesia, are developing launch vehicle technologies.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp, better known as SpaceX, plans to launch its Falcon 9 rockets every two to three weeks, its fastest rate since starting launches in 2010, once a new launch pad is put into service in Florida next week, the company’s president told Reuters on Monday.
“We should be launching every two to three weeks,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
During each of the past three years, the company tried to vastly improve its launch cadence only to hit significant setbacks.
It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.
A New Direction for NASA?
NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.
Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.
LUXEMBOURG & HAWTHORNE, Calif., August 30, 2016 (SES/SpaceX PR) — SES (Euronext Paris:SESG) (LuxX:SESG) and SpaceX announced today they have reached an agreement to launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster.
The satellite, which will be in a geostationary orbit and expand SES’s capabilities across Latin America, is scheduled for launch in Q4 2016. SES-10 will be the first-ever satellite to launch on a SpaceX flight-proven rocket booster.
LUXEMBOURG (SES PR)–SES S.A. (NYSE Paris:SESG) (LuxX:SESG) has agreed to increase its interest in O3b Networks (O3b) to 50.5% and, in doing so, will take a controlling share in the company. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals which are expected to be completed during H2 2016.
SES will pay USD 20 million to increase its fully diluted ownership of O3b from 49.1% to 50.5%, bringing its aggregate equity investment in O3b to date to USD 323 million (EUR 257 million). On completion, SES will consolidate O3b’s net debt, which is currently USD 1.2 billion. The transaction is expected to generate returns exceeding SES’s hurdle rates for infrastructure investments. (more…)
Europe’s next-generation Ariane 6 rocket remains on track for a 2020 first launch with a cost structure allowing the heavier Ariane 64 version to advertise per-kilogram prices below today’s Space X Falcon 9, European government and industry officials said April 6.
They said they saw no roadblocks to the 2020 first-flight date despite what they described as noncritical delays that have no impact on the rocket’s design, performance or cost targets.
These issues include a delay of several months in the ramp-up of Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL), which is the Ariane 6 prime contractor, due to tax issues in France, and an extended antitrust review by the European Commission of ASL’s plan to become the dominant shareholder of the Arianespace commercial launch consortium.
SES said specifically it had opened negotiations with two companies — industry officials said they are Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK’s Vivisat and MDA Corp. of Canada — “to have each extend the life of one of our satellites once their services are operational.”
The two in-orbit servicing projects take different approaches. Orbital ATK’s Vivisat launches a small vehicle that latches onto the target communications satellite and stays attached to it, providing fuel. MDA Corp. has designed an in-orbit fuel depot that would visit satellites, fuel them and then leave to service other customers….
ES has said that, for the right price, it is willing to be the inaugural customer using a refurbished Falcon 9 first stage “to show our commitment to reusable rockets.”
SES plans to launch seven satellites by late 2017– three in 2016 and four in 2017 – of which five are slated for SpaceX Falcon 9 missions, with two on Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket. The first of the seven, SES-9, was successfully launched in March aboard a Falcon 9.
SES of Luxembourg, SpaceX’s biggest backer among the large commercial satellite fleet operators, has said it wants to be the first customer to fly with a reused stage. But SES Chief Executive Karim Michel Sabbagh said here March 8 that SES wanted a 50 percent price cut, to around $30 million, in return for pioneering the reusable version.
Shotwell said it was too early to set precise prices for a reused Falcon 9, but that if the fuel on the first stage costs $1 million or less, and a reused first stage could be prepared for reflight for $3 million or so, a price reduction of 30 percent – to around $40 million – should be possible.
SpaceX will make another attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket with the SES-9 satellite aboard on Friday evening from Cape Canaveral. The 91-minute launch window opens at 6:35 p.m. EDT. SpaceX will webcast the launch on its website at www.spacex.com.
SpaceX will make its fourth attempt to launch the SES-9 satellite on Tuesday, March 1, at 6:35 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral. The company scrubbed three launch attempts of the Falcon 9 booster over the past week.
SpaceX will webcast the event at www.spacex.com beginning about 20 minutes before the launch window opens.
UPDATE NO. 2: The launch was scrubbed on Thursday due to a LOX loading problem. Since this was the backup date, SpaceX does not currently have a new launch date.
UPDATE: The launch has been scrubbed for Wednesday. SpaceX will try again on Thursday night.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch the SES-9 communications satellite to geosynchronous orbit this evening from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The approximately 90-minute launch window opens on February 24 at 6:46:14 pm ET. A backup launch window opens at 6:46:17 pm ET on February 25. The satellite will be deployed approximately 31 minutes after liftoff.
Following stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 will attempt an experimental landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship. Given the mission’s unique launch profile, a successful landing is not expected.
The launch webcast will be live at spacex.com/webcast approximately 20 minutes before launch.