SpaceX to reduces chance of first stage recovery on SES-9 launch

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In the heat of competition: Because of SpaceX’s delays in launching the SES-9 communications satellite, the company has modified the launch profile of its Falcon 9 rocket, abandoning a land vertical landing and reducing the odds for a successful barge landing, in order to get the satellite to its proper orbit sooner.

SES will thus be able to generate income from the satellite at about the same time it would have had their launch not been delayed. SpaceX meanwhile will still try to recover the first stage, but will face much more difficult odds.

One industry official familiar with the SES-9 mission said Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has not abandoned hope of recovering the first stage after a landing on an offshore platform positioned for the mission. But the chances of success are much less given the launch trajectory agreed to with SES to reduce the time to arrival at its operating position.


  • mpthompson

    Unfortunate that chances of recovery couldn’t be maximized, but the top priority must be keeping their paying customers happy. Hopefully soon SpaceX will have an inventory of used boosters that they can recycle for testing and refining recovery techniques.

  • Concur with mpthompson. Space launch is a service. A highly technical endeavor to be sure, but still a service. I’m sure a few potential customers will take notice of where SpaceX’s priorities are.

  • wodun

    I agree that it is good they are going out of their way to service the needs of their customer. SpaceX still gets a free test of landing their first stage under real world conditions. Perhaps it is more challenging, but if they pull it off, its even better for them in the long term and if not, they learn a lot for the next attempt.

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