The reusable Falcon 9 was tested last Monday, March 27. SpaceX's mission was a success and brought some much-needed supplies to the ISS.
"Static fire test complete", SpaceX confirmed via social media.
A new robot is expected to debut after the booster touches down to remotely safe and secure the rocket on the deck of the barge, or drone ship, for the trip back to Port Canaveral. After getting the cargo part of the way, the first stage of the rocket separated and began its descent back towards Earth.
SpaceX is about to put the heart of its business model to the test: Reusable rockets.
Also, although heavily promoted initially as a big feature of the Shuttle to reduce cost, reusing the SRBs actually wound up costing about as much money (if not more) than simply building new ones due to the complicated logistics involved.
Reusable rockets aren't a new concept. In the meantime, SpaceX is flying from Kennedy Space Center's historic Launch Pad 39A, which the company leased from NASA in 2014, and from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX thinks it can make the math work in its favor in terms of the costs of refurbishing and redeploying rockets, and that could eventually lead to a discount for customers willing to take advantage of "pre-loved" rockets.
From the moment SpaceX was founded in 2002, Musk and his team have been working toward this moment.
After successful retrieval and landing of Falcon 9 rockets, it looks like SpaceX is ready for the next step - to reuse them. Elon Musk's commercial space flight company has been mastering the art of landing rockets on solid ground and on drone ships in order to execute its dream of reusing rockets to lessen the cost of space flights.
"It's obviously pretty important for them", Bill Ostrove, an aerospace and defense industry analyst at Forecast International, said in an interview. Reusing rockets could ultimately lead to cheaper launches - and a lot more of them. SpaceX calls reusability "the key to making human life multi-planetary". Because the orbit is higher, the rocket needs to be going even faster to deliver the payload.
A Falcon 9 booster coming back for a landing.
This is the first time a liquid-fueled rocket booster used for an orbital flight will be reused for a second orbital flight.
Being able to re-use the rocket booster rather than having to make new ones from scratch could have an enormous impact on the cost of successive launches.
Brazil will also use the satellite for off-shore oil and gas exploration, SES said. However, Musk has pointed that Blue Origin's New Shepard system is designed for a suborbital tourist rocket and SpaceX's rockets are created to pull heavy satellites into orbit, which requires 1,000 times more energy.
According to Ostrove, if the launch fails, it wouldn't necessarily be the end of the world for SpaceX.