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SpaceX Test-Fires Used Rocket Ahead of Saturday Launch (Photo)

SpaceX Test-Fires Landed Falcon 9
SpaceX test-fired a Falcon 9 rocket on Oct. 2, 2017, ahead of a planned launch five days later. The mission will be the second for this Falcon 9's first stage, which launched for the first time in February 2017.
(Image: © SpaceX via Twitter)

Update for Oct. 7: SpaceX has rescheduled the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and the SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite to no earlier than Oct. 11.

SpaceX test-fired a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket Monday (Oct. 2) in preparation for a planned liftoff of the booster this weekend.

The standard "static fire" test took place Monday afternoon at Launch Complex 39A, part of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If all goes according to plan, the two-stage Falcon 9 will lift off from Pad 39A on Saturday (Oct. 7), delivering the SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite to orbit.

Saturday's launch will be the second mission for the first stage of this particular Falcon 9. On Feb. 19, the booster helped send a robotic Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station on a resupply run for NASA; the first stage then came back to Earth for a pinpoint touchdown at SpaceX's "Landing Zone 1," a facility at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (The second stage of this Falcon 9 has not flown before.)

The first stage will attempt another landing Saturday, this time on one of SpaceX's "autonomous spaceport drone ships" in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Spaceflight Now.

Such activities are part of SpaceX's effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets and spacecraft — a priority of company founder and CEO Elon Musk, who has stressed that such technology could revolutionize spaceflight by slashing its cost. (Indeed, the company's planned "BFR" Mars-colonization architecture — the latest version of which Musk unveiled last week — will be fully reusable.)

SpaceX has landed Falcon 9 first stages 16 times to date and is currently riding a streak of 12 straight successful touchdowns. (This streak refers to landing attempts and therefore does not take into account a Sept. 1, 2016, explosion during a preflight test, which destroyed a Falcon 9 and its satellite payload on the ground.)

The company has re-flown landed Falcon 9 first stages twice, both times successfully. The first such flight occurred on March 30 of this year, with the launch of the SES-10 communications satellite. A used Falcon 9 booster also lofted BulgariaSat-1 to orbit on June 23.

SpaceX will be quite busy for the next week or so. The company is also planning to launch 10 satellites for the communications company Iridium next Monday (Oct. 9), from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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