A SpaceX Pre-Flown Rocket Just Launched a Secure Communications Satellite Into Orbit
SpaceX has delivered a satellite into orbit using a rocket that had already flown before, back in May last year.
The Falcon 9 successfully launched and delivered its payload on Wednesday afternoon. The rocket’s first outing had taken a U.S. spy satellite, NROL-76, into orbit. This time round, it was GovSat-1, a public-private joint venture involving the government of Luxembourg and the satellite operator SES.
GovSat1 is intended to offer secure communications to governments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It was built by the American aerospace firm Orbital ATK and should last for 15 years if all goes to plan.
The launch, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, marks the sixth time that SpaceX has re-flown boosters that it used before.
This particular Falcon 9 won’t be used again—this time, SpaceX did not attempt a touchdown—but the plan for future versions of the rocket is to have the capability for more than 10 launches.
SpaceX’s next big milestone will be the launch, provisionally slated for Feb. 6, of its Falcon Heavy rocket.
Falcon Heavy will be able to carry cargos up to 119,000 pounds in weight, and is the foundation for Elon Musk’s dreams of future Mars colonization.