SES’ new SES-10 has been delivered into orbit following a successful liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Spaceport on March 30 at 6:27 p.m. EDT (10:27 a.m. UTC). The first stage conducted a successful landing on SpaceX’s drone ship following deployment of the satellite into orbit.
As the first launch utilizing a refurbished first stage, it is a major milestone for SpaceX. This particular launch vehicle had carried a Dragon cargo vessel to the International Space Station previously. SpaceX has had reusing rockets as a goal since it was founded 15 years ago. Over the past three years, the company has returned rockets to Earth after launching their payloads to orbit. However, this was the first time one of those rockets was used again.
The fact that it was successful will allow SpaceX to continue to market refurbished rockets to its customers. In fact, SpaceX is marketing the rockets as “flight proven,” saying that since the rockets have already flown customers have more assurance that they will be reliable.
Marketing aside, the company estimates that it will eventually drop costs by as much as 30 percent by using refurbished rockets. That means launches could eventually cost as little as $40 million on reused Falcon 9s. That marks a significant decline compared to the cost to launch a commercial satellite to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) only a few years ago, when it could cost between $90 million and $120 million on Proton or Ariane 5 launch vehicles.
The SES-10 satellite was built by Airbus based on its Eurostar E3000 platform and had a launch mass of 5,300 kilograms. The satellite will provide 13 kW of power to its 55 Ku-band transponders that will provide video broadcasting from 67° West to the Andean region in South America.