SpaceX is gearing up for yet another launch into space this weekend — weather-permitting. Sunday’s launch will be the third for SpaceX in just nine days, and the 39th Falcon 9 rocket launch. The mission is to put a massive communications satellite into orbit for the company Intelsat. Takeoff is scheduled for tonight at 7:36 PM EDT from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch the launch live at Space.com.
What sets this launch apart from the other recent missions is that the client is not interested in utilizing reusable rocket tech. Ken Lee, senior vice president for space systems for Intelsat said, “I would have no qualms about using the pre-flown hardware in the future once they have fully demonstrated their reusability,” which he defines as “[t]ypically…a minimum of three.” As of now, SpaceX has managed to launch and land a reusable rocket twice. Also, given the heft of the satellite, the booster will not have enough fuel to make the journey back to the surface.
Another SpaceX launch today if weather is good https://t.co/UdUYn8Kf0C
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 2, 2017
Burning Through the Backlog
SpaceX did have a sizable backlog of planned launches due to the unfortunate catastrophe where a Falcon 9 rocket exploded at launch. However, in the first half of 2017, SpaceX has already broken its previous record for launches in a single year. They are planning for a total of 20 launches before the end of 2017. This is important to Intelsat, and likely other entities looking to use SpaceX’s tech to get into space. “What’s important for us is not whether you launch every other week, but [that] once you plan, you execute to that plan,” Lee said.
SpaceX is well on its way to definitively proving the reliability of their rockets. While the price difference of using the reusable boosters may not be enough at this time for Intelsat, the price difference will continue to drop as the rockets continue to be reused. SpaceX is pioneering in this field and is revolutionizing what it takes to get into space.