Jan 24, 2017 11:45 AM EST
SpaceX Will Launch The Last Of Its Expendable Rocket [Video]
SpaceX will use the last of its expendable rockets and will use reusable ones after its last scheduled launch as soon as early February.
Space X's scheduled launch entails delivering an EchoStar 23 satellite by thrusting it into space using its Falcon 9 rocket. The launch was initially scheduled on Jan. 26, 2017. Recent undisclosed events rescheduled the launch to another date in early February.
Echostar 23 launch on Falcon 9 from 39A now "Early February". Target moving right every few days based on pad readiness for Static Fire.
— Chris B - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) January 23, 2017
Responding to a Tweet, Elon Musk confirmed that the EchoStar 23 delivery will be flown "expendable," this means the rocket will not be landing, and will not be recovered. Though capable of landing, the Falcon 9's launch parameters for the EchoStar 23 are highly taxing for its prerequisite height, which is 22,000 miles above Earth. As such, the rocket would eat up a lot of propellant during launch, The Verge reported.
@gdoehne Expendable. Future flights will go on Falcon Heavy or the upgraded Falcon 9. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 21, 2017
Many are wondering why SpaceX will not try to land Falcon 9 after delivering its payload into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The answer lies not in the rocket alone but in its payload. The satellite is simply too heavy at approximately 5,500kg against Falcon 9's 8,300kg capable rocket. With too much weight, there will not be enough fuel left for the rocket to execute a successful landing once it uses up too much fuel during launch while maintaining speed to reach its desired position of release in space.
SpaceX reportedly alternates between drone ship landings and ground landings, however, for EchoStar 23; there is simply not enough fuel to execute either type of controlled landing. However, that may change soon.
According to Musk, big-payload launches in the future will employ either the higher-performance upgraded Falcon 9 aka Block 5 or Falcon Heavy. Accordingly, heavy payloads will not be an issue for either of the two space vehicles. Additionally, Musk said the new Falcon should lift off before the end of 2017, according to Engadget.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 22, 2017