SpaceX has found a customer for one of its recycled rockets. SES, a Luxembourg-based satellite operator, announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with the Hawthorne, California-based company to launch a satellite on one of SpaceX’s “flight-proven” Falcon 9 rockets.
The SES-10 satellite will be placed in a geostationary orbit and will be the first one to use the lower stage and nine main engines of a Falcon 9 rocket that has already been used for an orbital mission.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 30, 2016
“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. 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,” Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer at SES, said in a statement. “This new agreement reached with SpaceX once again illustrates the faith we have in their technical and operational expertise.”
The launch is scheduled to take place in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Thanks for the longstanding faith in SpaceX. We very much look forward to doing this milestone flight with you. https://t.co/U2UFez0OhY
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 30, 2016
Success in recovering rockets is crucial to SpaceX’s space program, which seeks to drastically cut cost of travel by reusing the rockets. Currently, the first stage of a rocket is discarded after each use, making spaceflight — even a suborbital one — dauntingly expensive.
Over the past two years, SpaceX has been actively testing its flagship Falcon 9 rockets equipped with technology that allows them to be recovered and reused. So far, the company has succeeded in landing the lower stages of six of its Falcon 9 rockets, including four that have been landed on drone barges at sea.
“Re-launching 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 of SpaceX, said in the statement. “SES has been a strong supporter of SpaceX’s approach to reusability over the years and we’re delighted that the first launch of a flight-proven rocket will carry SES-10.”