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SpaceX to conduct first launch with used rocket this year

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-31 09:24

SpaceX to conduct first launch with used rocket this year

The recovered first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is transported to the SpaceX hangar at launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 14, 2016. The vehicle was launched on May 6 and returned to land a short time later aboard a barge in the Atlantic Ocean. [Photo / Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US space firm SpaceX has reached an agreement with Luxembourg-based SES to launch a commercial communications satellite on a used Falcon 9 rocket for the first time, the two companies said Tuesday.

The satellite, known as SES-10, is scheduled for launch in the fourth quarter of this year that will send it to a geostationary orbit and expand the European satellite operator's capabilities across Latin America.

"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 a statement.

SES has been known to be "a strong supporter" of SpaceX's approach to reusability over the years. Back in 2013, it was the first company to launch a commercial satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket. This March, its SES-9 satellite was again launched into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"We are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX's first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket," said Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES.

"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," Halliwell said.

SES-10 is being built by Airbus Defence and Space. Once in orbit, it will provide telecommunications services to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

So far, SpaceX has successfully landed its rockets for six of the nine Falcon 9 missions it has launched since December, two of them on land and five on sea.

All of these landing attempts were part of SpaceX's effort to produce a fully and rapidly reusable rocket, which the company said will dramatically reduce the cost of space transport.

Traditionally, rockets are designed for a single use only, burning up or crashing into the ocean after liftoff.

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