Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Step Forward, as SES Launches a Used SpaceX Rocket

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Step Forward, as SES Launches a Used SpaceX Rocket

Article excerpt

In April, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket delivered cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) before it landed on a barge in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Later this year, that same rocket is set to become the first in history to be reused, ushering in the age of second-hand rockets.

It will carry into orbit a satellite meant to provide telecommunications coverage to Central and South America, SES, the satellite maker, announced Tuesday.

The launch will mark an important step in space travel and space commerce, as reusable rockets can significantly reduce the cost of sending cargo (and perhaps humans) outside the atmosphere.

"We think it's a big moment," Martin Halliwell, the chief technology officer at SES, told BBC News. "We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight, and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management," Mr. Halliwell added in the statement.

The launch is scheduled in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to SES. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry an SES-10 satellite that is meant to provide telecommunications coverage for Central and South America and the Caribbean.

SpaceX charges $60 million for a commercial launch, according to SpaceNews, but Halliwell told the BBC that SpaceX has offered his company a discount.

The rocket scheduled to carry the satellite into high orbit left Earth for the first time on April 8 , when it launched 1.5 tons of supplies to the International Space Station before it landing on a cargo ship off the Florida coast. It was the first time SpaceX successfully landed a rocket at sea. The booster was then brought to Texas, where it was tested and OKed for a second flight.

Reusable rockets have long been the holy grail of space travel, as BBC's Jonathan Amos writes.

"The space shuttle was famously designed as a partially reusable system, and yet the complexities of servicing the vehicle swamped any savings. …

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