Star Letters contributors are joining Elon Musk’s SpaceX today at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a sunset rocket launch. And it’s not just any kind of rocket launch. SpaceX has refurbished a Falcon 9 booster that previously launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station earlier this year and will now refly it on another mission.
Reminder: humans have been dumping these complex and outrageously expensive machines after one use for nearly 60 years. So yes, reusable orbital rocket launches are pretty damn important. Especially the first ones.
SpaceX will attempt to recover the rocket again on the Of Course I Still Love You robotic drone-ship parked a couple of hundred miles off Florida’s coast. The mission is slated to launch at 6:53 PM Eastern time and the booster will come flying home for it’s ocean landing around 8 minutes later. This will be the third time SpaceX has used what they call a flight-proven rocket.
Tune in below 15 minutes before launch for the live broadcast. Star Letter’s Facebook page will also have updates.
The Hawthorne, California-based spaceflight company is pursuing full and rapid reusability of any and all of its flight hardware. This is the key, according to founder Elon Musk, to launching economically sustainable missions to Mars. Also, spaceships need to be reusable or every trip to Mars is basically one-way.
Elon Musk recently unveiled an updated version of the Interplanetary Transport System in which the Mars colonizing vehicle has been transformed into a fully reusable, multi-purpose vehicle capable of missions to the International Space Station, the Moon, and of course, Mars.
The redesigned “Big Fucking Rocket” will be based on the technologies mastered with SpaceX’s current line of spacecraft. Mainly, the Falcon 9’s propulsive systems and Dragon’s ability to automatically rendezvous and dock with another spacecraft. The latter being the key to refueling the Mars ship in orbit so it has a full tank for the long trip.
SpaceX hopes to launch those first missions from right here at Kennedy Space Center.
We’d also like to note that today is the 1-year anniversary of when President Obama published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for a human mission to Mars. Here’s what he said:
“We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” said President Obama “Getting to Mars will require continued cooperation between government and private innovators, and we’re already well on our way. Within the next two years, private companies will for the first time send astronauts to the International Space Station.”
SpaceX even responded to the call directly:
“SpaceX was founded with the ultimate goal of helping make humans a multi-planetary species. As Elon said at his recent talk, it will take a combination of public and private efforts to build a self-sustaining city on Mars,” said SpaceX to the New York Observer. “It’s exciting to see President Obama advocate for the next frontier in human spaceflight, and we look forward to participating in the journey.”
Photo Credits: Brandon Thoren