Assuming all goes according to plan, this week will mark a significant milestone, both for SpaceX and for the future of spaceflight. With static fire scheduled to take place today at the historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Centre, final preparations are being made for an incredible feat of engineering: The maiden flight of the world’s first reused orbital class rocket booster.
Going all in on reusability as an economic forcing function to lower the costs of human spaceflight, Elon Musk and the team at SpaceX hope to build upon their recent successes by launching the upcoming SES-10 mission on a reused Falcon 9 booster; a feat now 15 years in the making for Musk. Former space policy adviser to President Obama, Phil Larson, described the feat as “a Wright Brothers moment for space.”
The booster, Core #1021 which originally flew the CRS-8 mission, has been through a 4 month long refurbishment process and has now officially been qualified for reflight by the team at SpaceX. They will attempt to reland the booster on the ASDS, Of Course I Still Love You, in the Atlantic Ocean (see original landing below). This will provide not only a breakthrough in rocketry, but also a plethora of valuable data regarding how reused boosters fare from launch to landing which will ultimately help us to achieve the rapid reusability that SpaceX are striving so hard to achieve.
We wish SpaceX godspeed and the best of luck for their upcoming launch. I’m sure I speak for many when I say that we will all be watching with bated breath!