Innovation

SpaceX makes history with recycled rocket launching a satellite

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket delivered a communications satellite into orbit yesterday, making aerospace history. This is part of the company's broader plan to create a globe-spanning satellite network.

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Thursday's launch of a recycled rocket was a historical moment in the aerospace industry.

Image: SpaceX

Private spaceflight company SpaceX is one step closer to its goal of deploying thousands of communication satellites with Thursday's successful launch of a recycled Falcon 9 rocket that delivered the SES-10 satellite into orbit.

The communications satellite was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida using the Falcon 9 rocket stage that had already been to space. Thursday's rocket landed vertically on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean a few minutes after the launch.

Recycling rockets in this method reduces costs, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, talking to attendees at a Code Conference last year. Finding ways to cut expenses makes SpaceX's bigger plan more feasible.

SEE: SpaceX plots 4,000 satellite constellation for home broadband (ZDNet)

SpaceX did a livestream of the launch, and after the launching, Musk said, "It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight."

In November 2016, SpaceX filed a proposal with the FCC describing the company's plan of a space internet with 4,425 satellites in non-geostationary orbit traveling 1,110 km to 1,325 km above the Earth's surface, with at least one satellite a minimum of 40 degrees above the horizon, covering nearly every place on the planet. The initial deployment would consist of 1,600 satellites and the final deployment of an additional 2,825 satellites, according to the FCC filing.

The satellites will provide broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, governmental, and professional users around the globe. They will use advanced phased array beam-forming and digital processing technologies within the satellite payload to make use of Ku- and Ka-band spectrum resources, according to the filing.

The SES-10 will provide communications for Latin America covering Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru and with 55 KU-band transponder equivalents, it will be one of the biggest satellites covering the area and will support SES's coverage of the region, according to a Space-X press release.

Three takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. On Thursday, SpaceX launched a communications satellite into space using a recycled rocket, an aerospace first.
  2. The communications satellite is part of a bigger plan that SpaceX has to launch a total of 4,425 satellites into space to effectively cover the entire planet with communications capabilities.
  3. The SES-10 satellite launched on Thursday will provide wireless communications capabilities for some Latin American countries.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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