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SpaceX will attempt the launch of EchoStar 105/SES-11 at 6:53 PM EDT (10:53 PM UTC). This is SpaceX's second launch attempt in 3 days, following the successful launch of 10 satellites for Iridium on Monday:
It's the third time SpaceX has used one of its landed boosters for a second flight — and if it sticks the landing again, it'll also be the third to have come safely back to Earth for a second time. The first reused Falcon 9 flew in March, with the second one following close behind in June. It's possible we'll see more used rockets fly before the year is out: earlier this year, Musk said the company could fly as many as six used boosters in 2017. Eventually, SpaceX hopes to refly its Falcon 9s much more frequently, by making a landed booster ready to fly again in just 24 hours.
Going up on this flight is a hybrid satellite that will be used by two companies, SES and EchoStar. Called EchoStar 105/SES-11, the satellite will sit in a high orbit 22,000 miles above Earth, providing high-definition broadcasts to the US and other parts of North America. While this is the first time EchoStar is flying a payload on a used Falcon 9, this is familiar territory for SES. The company's SES-10 satellite went up on the first "re-flight" in March. And SES has made it very clear that it is eager to fly its satellites on previously flown boosters.
Update: Liftoff was successful and the first stage landed successfully on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Update 2: EchoStar 105/SES-11 successfully deployed.
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Sorry for the late submission, but I just read over at Ars Technica that SpaceX has scheduled two launches in the next 3 days -- the first of which is in less than 45 minutes from the time of this writing.
Company remains on pace for 20 launches this year, smashing previous records.
SpaceX has made 13 successful launches this year, and with every additional flight it continues to add to its record for total number of missions in a calendar year. The company's previous high-water mark for launches came in 2016, with eight. But SpaceX flew no additional missions after Sept. 1 last year, standing down following a fueling mishap that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and its payload on the launch pad.
Now, SpaceX is going for two launches in three days. On Monday, the company will attempt to launch 10 satellites into orbit about 700km above the Earth for Iridium. Scheduled for 8:37a.m. ET, the launch will take place from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This is SpaceX's third of eight launches for Iridium, which is establishing a new constellation of communications satellites known as Iridium NEXT. After launching, SpaceX will attempt a return landing of the first stage aboard the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship in the Pacific Ocean. The webcast below should begin 15 to 20 minutes before the launch attempt.
Then, on Wednesday, SpaceX is scheduled to attempt a launch from Kennedy Space Center at 4:30pm ET. This mission will put the SES-11/EchoStar 105 satellite into geostationary orbit. One of the highlights of this flight is that SpaceX will be flying a "used" first stage booster—only the third time the company has attempted this. A droneship landing attempt in the Atlantic Ocean is anticipated.
The first launch, of the Iridium satellites can we watched live on YouTube.
[Update: The launch was successful, the first stage landed back on droneship with no issues, and all ten Iridium Next satellites were deployed successfully. - Fnord666]
Following SpaceX's nearly back-to-back rocket launches this week, Morgan Stanley analysts released a report praising SpaceX's reusable rocket technology and predicting a big valuation for the company. But the value is expected to be in satellite-based broadband rather than mundane and cheap rocket launches:
SpaceX could become a $50 billion juggernaut through its launch of a satellite broadband network, a team of Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a report Thursday. The private space company on Wednesday launched its 15th rocket this year, and the second this week. More importantly, the Falcon 9 rocket launch was the third time SpaceX reused the first stage booster, and with each of these so-called "flight-proven" launches, it should be easier to attract new customers.
Morgan Stanley says SpaceX developing reusable rockets is "an elevator to low Earth orbit." "When Elisha Otis demonstrated the safety elevator in 1854, the public may have struggled to comprehend the impact on architecture and city design. Roughly 20 years later, every multistory building in New York, Boston, and Chicago was constructed around a central elevator shaft," Morgan Stanley said. "It all comes down to SpaceX."
Reducing the cost to launch a satellite to about $60 million, from the $200 million that United Launch Alliance charged through most of the last decade, was a monumental breakthrough. SpaceX is trying to reduce its cost to $5 million per mission, and Morgan Stanley says the launch business "generates limited operating income." The cash cow, to Morgan Stanley, is the SpaceX plan to launch a satellite broadband network in two years and send humans to Mars in seven.