On Thursday, March 30, 2017, SpaceX is scheduled to attempt a milestone rocket launch; that is, for the first time, it’ll try to launch a previously used (“flight proven”) rocket into orbit around Earth. The window for a lift-off for the Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center opens at 18:27 EDT (22:27 UTC). There’s a two-and-a-half-hour launch window, so it could happen anytime until 8:57 p.m. EDT. Translate to your timezone.
You can watch it live here. The page will be kept up-to-date with a countdown and automatically turn on the live video when it becomes available.
Or you can watch a live stream of the launch on the SpaceX Youtube page here.
This same rocket was used last April to send a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station (ISS). It landed on April 8 in the Atlantic Ocean on a SpaceX drone ship named Of Course I Still Love You.
This time, the spacecraft will carry an SES-10 satellite for coverage over Latin America.
How big a deal is this? It’s a very big deal, said The Planetary Society’s Jason Davis:
SpaceX’s entire philosophy revolves around the concept of reusability. Company CEO Elon Musk has been dreaming about reusable rockets since the company’s inception 15 years ago, when there was only a Falcon LV—which later became the Falcon 1 Musk proudly displayed on the Washington, D.C. National Mall in 2003. The company’s website says reusability is ‘the key to making human life multi-planetary’ because it could lower costs to the point where sending a million colonists to Mars is a feasible plan.
The rocket went through a successful static fire test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Monday (March 27). The Falcon 9 was held clamped in place on the launch pad as it exerted 1.7 million pounds of thrust.
Bottom line: SpaceX will attempt the first reuse of a recovered first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.