Here's why SpaceX's rocket launch this week is a big freaking deal

Falcon 9 static fire test

The unmanned Falcon 9, which is a model created to be reused repeatedly to cut down launch costs, will be carrying an SES-10 satellite for coverage over Latin America, according to satellite company SES. After the test, the booster for this week's launch was moved to Cape Canaveral, the second stage booster attached on top, and then on Monday underwent a "static fire" burn, a firing of its engines for several seconds.

SpaceX is poised to make history this week by reflying a rocket booster that launched a payload into space past year before landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. And lowering the cost of access to space could make spaceflight a more affordable investment for companies in the long term.

SES has contracted SpaceX to launch four satellites, SES-10 targeted for Thursday from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A on the used booster, SES-11, SES-16 and SES-14. Reusability will make possible the necessary financial realities outlined by Elon Musk a year ago when he described SpaceX's plan to get to Mars, and will help the company continue to undercut competitors for commercial launches while still making money in the process. The rocket, which successfully landed on a drone ship in April 2016, is scheduled to refly on the SES-10 mission. Elon Musk originally wanted to refly the booster last June, but that was delayed, and a September pad explosion pushed things back even further. Not only is SpaceX launching a reused rocket for the first time, but they are delivering a payload to GTO.

SpaceX's landing platform is on the way to the landing zone a few hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral to receive the Falcon 9 first stage, which will again attempt a landing at sea after completing its two-and-a-half minute firing to push SES 10 toward space.

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The two and a half-hour launch window opens at 6:27 p.m. Thursday.

Now, for full disclosure, this is technically not the very first relaunched booster rocket ever. Instead, they come back and land vertically on a ship in the middle of the ocean (the rockets also can land at the launch site). "We're at the edge of quite a significant bit of history here". "I think the whole industry is looking".

Instead of effectively throwing away rocket boosters after one use - which is traditionally how it's done - SpaceX set out to bring those expensive boosters back to Earth and then re-fly them on multiple missions.

Using a rocket for a second time, scientists said, would mark a watershed moment for space exploration.

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According to the latest weather forecast from the United States Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, there is an 70% percent chance overall of acceptable weather conditions for Thursday's launch. This means it would enable more opportunities for space agencies to launch their payloads into space, due to the reduced costs.

"This is a really really exciting step forward", Halliwell said.

SpaceX's entire philosophy revolves around the concept of reusability.

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