On Monday, Dec. 21 at 8:29 pm ET, the aerospace and launch services company, SpaceX, is scheduled to launch the most powerful version of its Falcon 9 out of its Cape Canaveral launch site.
About 10 minutes after lift off, SpaceX will attempt to land part of that rocket back at the launch site.
It will be the first time that SpaceX will have attempted a rocket landing like this.
If SpaceX pulls off the rocket landing, it will mark a critical milestone for the company and potentially kick off a new era in spaceflight driven by reusable rockets.
You can watch all of the action unfold on SpaceX’s LiveStream channel here or below:
A bigger, better rocket
Over the last six months, SpaceX has performed a number of upgrades to its Falcon 9 rockets. Many of those upgrades were focused on improving the first stage of the rocket, which is the part that SpaceX hopes to retrieve after lift off.
Some of the upgrades to the first stage include an additional five feet, which provides:
- More space to carry extra fuel
- Increased power and faster rocket speeds
These upgrades will help the rocket upon its attempt to land shortly after lift off. Using GPS tracking, SpaceX will attempt to land the rocket on the “X” shown below:
SpaceX will be ferrying 11 satellites into orbit for the telecommunications company Orbcomm Inc.
And thanks to the latest upgrades, the Falcon 9 booster will have enough fuel after life off to attempt a landing back at its Cape Canaveral launch site.
Here’s a time line of what will take place once the rocket launches out of Cape Canaveral:
About 10 minutes after lift off, the rocket will try to touch down. It’s the first time SpaceX will have attempted this type of rocket landing at their Cape Canaveral base.
Earlier this year, SpaceX tried a similar rocket landing on a drone ship floating in the Atlantic, but neither attempt resulted in a reusable rocket.
According to earlier SpaceX statements, an attempted rocket landing on land will be easier than landing on a drone ship.
Moreover, SpaceX says it has pinpointed what went wrong each time and fixed the problem to prevent the same issue from happening again.
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