In the first half of 2017, SpaceX has already broken its previous record for launches in a single year. Although, they are planning for almost 20 launches in 2017. Now, in less than two weeks, SpaceX is launching its third mission. The mission is to put a massive communications satellite into orbit for the company Intelsat.
Ken Lee, senior vice president for space systems for Intelsat said, “I would have no qualms about using the pre-flown hardware in the future once they have fully demonstrated their reusability,” which he defines as “[t]ypically…a minimum of three.”
This launch will be the third launch in just nine days and the 39th Falcon 9 rocket launch. The takeoff is scheduled on Tuesday, July 4, at 7:37 p.m. EDT, or 23:37 UTC from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. What sets this launch apart from the other recent missions is that the client is not interested in utilizing reusable rocket tech.
As SpaceX plans, it is important to Intelsat, and likely other entities looking to use SpaceX’s tech to get into space.
The probe, called Intelsat 35e, weighs more than 13,000 pounds, making it one of the heaviest satellites SpaceX has ever launched. It’s also going to a particularly high orbit above Earth called geostationary orbit, a path 22,000 miles up. Meanwhile, the Falcon9 will have to burn a lot of fuel to get the satellite where it needs to go.
This will be the pretty impressive launch for the company. Typically, the number of launches a company will pull off each year hovers somewhere in the single digits or maybe a dozen or so at best. But this launch will be the third mission of this year.
Lee said, “SpaceX offered to use a pre-flown rocket for the Intelsat 35e satellite, but Intelsat declined.”
“We have ongoing conversations about how many successful missions are needed before we consider that to be a reliable launch vehicle. Typically, there’s a minimum of three.”
UPDATE: This article was updated to include mission’s new launch time.