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SpaceX is slated to launch the SES-10 this coming Thursday from LC-39A at KSC. This is widely seen a pretty major milestone, as this will be the first time a re-used booster will be used to put a payload into orbit.

Given that the booster's already used, are SpaceX planning on having it return again, either to an autonomous landing barge or to KSC itself?

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    $\begingroup$ "This will be the first time a re-used booster will be used to put a payload into orbit." -- 1982 called, they wanted to have a chat about selective memory. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/STS-4 $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Mar 29 '17 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ That article doesn't have anything about re-used boosters. Incidentally, not everyone has an encyclopedic knowledge of all historic space launches -- and if my statement's wrong, feel free to edit in a correction. $\endgroup$ – Jules Mar 29 '17 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ Expanded my comment into a question. space.stackexchange.com/questions/20868/… $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Mar 29 '17 at 14:18
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According to Florida Today SpaceX plans to land the booster again, on a drone ship.

After launching SES-10, SpaceX will again try to land the booster at sea, though Halliwell said the mission launching the satellite on its way to an orbit more than 22,000 miles up was “right at the limit” of being able to pull off a second landing.

Article

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SpaceX (Fine, Elon Musk, tweeted) suggested after the Echostar 23 launch, which was expendable that this would be the last planned expendable launch. Everything else would either land back at base, or on a barge. If it is too heavy to land, then missions would be scheduled to use the more powerful Falcon Heavy booster.

This launch is scheduled to land downrange on the ASDS "Of Course I Still Love You" (OCISLY).

Another reference, quoting the tweet would be Spaceflight Insider that adds a twist that the Mod 5 Falcon 9 might have higher payload performance. The version that launched Echostar-23 is considered mod-3 and mod-5 has been talked about as the final build, iterated, to have the final changes needed for greater reuse.

After landing many stages (7 as of this writing, more every couple of weeks I suppose) SpaceX has a growing sample of data of components that need to be updated or redesigned for better and simpler reuse. All those changes are being rolled into the design slowly, with a major milestone called Mod 5 being the stake in the ground of all the planned changes (as of this time, no doubt a Mod 6 will follow over time).

The engines have followed such a plan with the Merlin 1C used on the Falcon 9 V1.0, then changing to the Merlin 1D for the Falcon 9 V1.1, then an upgraded Full Thrust version, still with Merlin 1D's but at higher performance ratings. The Mod 5 is suggested to have an even higher thrust/performance Merlin 1D for additional margin.

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  • $\begingroup$ Where did SpaceX suggest that Echostar-23 would be the last expendable launch? $\endgroup$ – pericynthion Mar 29 '17 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ Could you cite some sources about this? IIRC, some of the more distant planned missions would make it impossible to reuse all the cores from an FH (if not any of the cores from the FH). $\endgroup$ – Jules Mar 29 '17 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ I was trying to find the tweet from Musk but cannot now. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Mar 29 '17 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ Two Links for you, the second may be the one you want ... spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/… - twitter.com/elonmusk/status/822926184719609856 $\endgroup$ – Enigma Maitreya Mar 29 '17 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ @jkavalik That seems likely. Time will tell. Regardless, the vast majority will be landed, if not reused. You know, might be able to buy a used core cheap for static display. Gets expensive storing large structures like that. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Mar 29 '17 at 17:08

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