Elon Musk's SpaceX is preparing to make history today as it gets set to launch the Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If successful it will mark the first time a reusable rocket has been sent into space.
The launch window starts at 6:27pm (EDT) and will last for two-and-a-half hours. It sees the Falcon 9 rocket, which has already been to the International Space Station and landed back on Earth, refurbished and readied with a payload of the SES-10 communications satellite. SpaceX will be livestreaming the event on its YouTube channel.
If all goes to plan it would make history and make a giant leap towards a new era of reusable, low-cost rocket launches and space travel.
The Falcon 9 returned from a supply mission to the ISS in April 2016, landing on a drone ship in the ocean. SpaceX has since refurbished the main booster, which separates from the top of the rocket, for this monumental launch. The ultimate plan is to repeat this process, rather than spending hundreds of millions building a new rocket booster every time. It is estimated that the cost for this launch is in the region of $62 million, which is significantly cheaper.
"If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred," said Elon Musk, SpaceX founder, in a blog post.
Musk has been vocal in his quest to send humans to Mars and the success of SpaceX's launch may be the first step towards that goal if the concept of reusable rockets can be achieved. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has also been making progress with reusable rockets by successfully launching and landing his Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket as he sets his sights on space tourism.