SpaceX successfully launches and lands used rocket
- Author: Terrell Bush Jun 24, 2017,
Jun 24, 2017, 0:14
Hawthorne-based aerospace firm SpaceX successfully launched a commercial communications satellite into orbit Friday, and it marked the second time the company has re-used the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket, continuing its pioneering effort to recycle equipment and slash costs. The single engine powering the Falcon 9's second stage continued pushing BulgariaSat 1 to space.
Company Chief Executive Elon Musk had tried to temper expectations of the booster's landing just prior to the launch, tweeting that the Falcon 9 rocket would experience its "highest ever reentry force and heat" during Friday's launch. The rocket is as stated before a Falcon 9 rocket which has already flown to space, so it is being reused. The booster was recovered, refurbished and reused, as part of SpaceX's long-running campaign to reduce the cost of access to space through rocket reusability.
"BulgariaSat-1's payload includes 30 Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) Ku-band transponders and two Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Ku-band transponders, in order to meet the current demand for high quality HDTV and Ultra HDTV broadcasting, as well as various other communications applications". That booster came back down to Earth for a second landing as well.
SpaceX will attempt to recover the booster from this mission on an unmanned drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The second stage engine fired for almost six minutes in the first of two burns required to put BulgariaSat 1 into the proper elliptical orbit.
The satellite was deployed to a geostationary transfer orbit about 35 minutes after launch.
On-board thrusters will be used to put the satellite into a circular orbit 22,300 miles above the equator where it will appear to hang stationary in the sky above the Balkans.
SpaceX is slated to fire up a Falcon 9 rocket for the eighth time this year on Friday, matching its flight total for all of last year. SpaceX wants both to land on robotic platforms.
Liftoff from pad 4-East is targeted for 4:25 p.m. EDT. For Bulgaria, it's the first satellite the country has ever launched.
The mission was the second for the Falcon 9 first stage, which had previously launched and safely landed on January 14.
The pad underwent a number of renovations and adjustments to adapt it for the needs of the Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavy rockets SpaceX uses for its launches.