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.