Satellite operator SES will be the first company to launch a spacecraft on a 'second-hand' SpaceX rocket. The Falcon 9 which travelled to the ISS in April, before landing on a drone ship in open water, will be called upon for the new flight later this year. Blast-off is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2016 and will be used to send an SES-10 satellite into a geostationary orbit over Latin America. Here, it'll deliver "direct-to-home broadcasting, enterprise and mobility services" to people back on the surface.
"Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX's first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket," Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer for SES said. "We believe space rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight." The job is hugely significant for SpaceX. The company, run by Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk, is driven by the idea that spaceflight can be done better, and for less. Part of its master plan is a reliably reusable rocket -- one that can land safely and protect its internals, minimizing repairs and delivering cost savings.
SpaceX has landed six rockets successfully -- others, well, not so much. Back in April, Musk suggested that a Falcon 9 rocket could be ready for a second launch by May or June. Obviously, that didn't happen (to be fair, it was an ambitious timeline). However, in the future the company hopes to turn around each rocket in a few weeks. For now, it's presumably focused on ensuring the rocket will go back up with zero problems. "Relaunching a rocket that has already delivered spacecraft to orbit is an important milestone on the path to complete and rapid reusability," Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer for SpaceX stressed.