This year, SpaceX launches its fifth rocket tonight. Using Falcon 9 as its flagship, they will deliver the THAICOM-8 telcommunications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit.
The GTO is called a common parking spot for communications satellites. The SpaceX launch isn't the exciting part. The Verge calls it the fun stuff. After SpaceX does it job and the Falcon 9 is on its way back, the separation will commence. The rocket will disconnect the rocket engines and main fuel tanks into different stages. These will then head back to earth. The rest of the rocket will need to land on the Earth safely. SpaceX will attempt to land the remaining stage on an autonomous drone ship located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX has been trying, since the start of the year, to make sure all rockets land safely and intact. Recently, SpaceX was able to execute two drone ship landings successfully.
"Weather 90% go for 5:40pm ET launch today. Droneship landing challenging -- very hot and fast first-stage reentry," blasts SpaceX's main Twitter account.
Their attempt to return the rocket back to homebase is one of Musk's goal for reusability. Building rockets require a huge financial wallet and the fuel costs are almost as high. The Falcon 9 itself burns more fuel than normal. Musk once mentioned that when SpaceX launches a rocket, the cost is around $61 million. The kerosene propellant and liquid oxygen alone costs $200,000. Elon Musk's goal to make SpaceX rockets reusable has been carefully watched. Rockets upon launch and when landing often discard their parts and stages, making it impossible to be reused. Their next goal is to relaunch these rockets into space.
Aside from SpaceX rocket launches, the company is actively developing technologies with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars because the company believes in a future where humanity is exploring the stars.