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On February 24th, rocket company SpaceX will launch a SES satellite on its journey into space. SES-9 is scheduled to launch at 6.46 pm (Florida time).
Once successfully launched SpaceX is going to attempt to land the Falcon-9 rocket’s upper stage onto a giant ocean barge positioned some 400 miles (643 kms) off shore from its Cape Canaveral launch site.
SES’s CTO is Martin Halliwell, and he told Reuters on February 23 that he wanted to buy one of these recovered rockets, if the price was right! He said SES would consider flying atop a used SpaceX rocket, pending further assessments of their flight worthiness. Halliwell said he’s challenged SpaceX to make SES the first satellite operator to fly the same rocket to orbit twice.
SES-9 is almost a year late in being launched, and the satellite operator has been patiently waiting for SpaceX to overcome a few problems, not least a rocket failure last summer, which held up the launch programme. This particular satellite, at 5721 kg, is the heaviest-ever launch undertaken by SpaceX and needs an ungraded Falcon-9 rocket to deliver the satellite.
SES has contracted with SpaceX to launch three more satellites between now and the end of 2017.