History repeats: SpaceX launch reuses Falcon 9 booster
SpaceX made history again today with the second successful launch and powered landing of a Falcon 9 booster. The recycled rocket lifted off at 6:27 pm EDT from Launch Complex 39 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to deliver the SES-10 communications satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit before returning to Earth and touching down on the unmanned seabarge "Of Course I Still Love You" at 6:36 pm EDT.
Though the US Space Shuttles returned to space many times, as has the secret unmanned US Air Force X-37B, this is the first time that a ballistic rocket has ever flown on an orbital mission, returned to Earth, then flown again on a later orbital mission. The Falcon 9 used on today's flight was previously used on the CRS-8 mission that went up on April 8, 2016.
The SES-10 mission lifted off under clear skies without any major technical problems. One minute and 22 seconds into the flight, the booster achieved Max Q, or the point of maximum mechanical stress. The second stage separated at the two minute and 41 second mark and the SES-10 satellite was deployed 32 minutes after launch.
Meanwhile, the Falcon 9 carried out a series of reentry and landing burns before making a controlled touchdown on the seabarge downrange from Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean. Due to water on the rocket's lens and a momentary loss of the video feed, no images were immediately available of the historic landing.
The technical webcast of the launch is available below.