SpaceX is poised to make spaceflight history tomorrow as it attempts to land a rocket on a platform floating in the Atlantic.
At 4:10 p.m. ET on April 14, SpaceX will launch a 22-story-tall Falcon9 rocket from Cape Canaveral carrying its Dragon space capsule full of supplies for the astronauts living on board the International Space Station (ISS).
The main event will come a few minutes after the launch, though. The spaceflight community will watch with baited breath as SpaceX attempts to guide the rocket back to Earth and land it upright on a platform in the ocean.
This feat would be a game-changer for spaceflight and would be a huge step toward making reusable rockets a reality. The ability to use the same rockets over and over would considerably reduce the cost of launches and space travel itself.
Draw Science created this graphic that shows a simple explanation of how reusable rockets work:
SpaceX released their own graphic that shows a step by step schematic of how this revolutionary rocket technology works.
After the launch, the first stage of the rocket separates and then thrusters flip on to reorient the rocket and point it back towards Earth. Grid fins deploy just before the rocket reenters Earth’s atmosphere and a sophisticated GPS tracking system guides the rocket to its landing spot.
You can click on the image for a larger version:
SpaceX’s first attempt to land a rocket ended in a fiery explosion. Today’s launch will be the company’s second attempt.
If all goes according to plan, the rocket will land upright, similar to this video of the concept that SpaceX created:
The launch will happen at 4:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday and you can watch a live stream of the event from both SpaceX and NASA.
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