Science

SpaceX's First Customer To Reuse Falcon 9 Rocket For Satellite Launch

By Victor Thomson , Aug 31, 2016 03:00 AM EDT

The first customer has signed up to use a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket of the private space agency SpaceX, the companies said on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

According to Reuters, satellite fleet operator SES will be the first customer of the commercial space agency SpaceX, with a launch scheduled later this year. The 5,000-kilogram SES-10 telecommunications satellite will be carried on the orbit by a reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The first commercial reuse of a Falcon 9 rocket is marked by the contract signed with the Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. This is crucial to efforts made to reduce the cost of space launches by Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX).

The exact details on the terms of the deal were not disclosed at the moment. In recent months, Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has been cautious in predicting how much savings might come from recovering, refurbishing and reusing first stages of the Falcon 9 rockets.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said previously that the private space agency will offer a 30 percent discount for launches aboard previously flown rockets. This would bring the launch's price down to a fraction of what competitors charge, at just around $43 million per flight.

So far SpaceX has landed six Falcon 9 rockets. After Saturday's scheduled launch in Florida of an Israeli communications satellite, the private space company will attempt to land its seventh rocket.

According to Space News, the Luxembourg-based SES has shown past support for SpaceX and its belief that reusability can lower launch costs. This first customer for a reused Falcon 9 rocket is the latest validation that the commercial market is ready to make the turn to reusability.

The SES-10 satellite has been built by Airbus Defence and Space. Following its separation from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the satellite will use conventional chemical propellant to raise its orbit immediately. The launch is expected to occur in October, as previously stated by SES.

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