After three attempts followed by three scrubbed launches, SpaceX is ready to try again to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday at 6:03 pm ET.
For some, the launch was less exciting than the company’s attempt to land a rocket on a barge in the Atlantic. If successful, the landing would have been the first in history, pioneering the way toward a new era or reusable rocket technology.
But SpaceX just announced that the ocean waves are rocking the barge too much for a safe attempted landing. Instead, they will attempt a soft landing in the ocean, in which they try to control the rocket enough to land it vertically, though not on the drone ship.
“The drone ship was designed to operate in all but the most extreme weather,” SpaceX stated in a recent report. “We are experiencing just such weather in the Atlantic with waves reaching up to three stories in height crashing over the decks.”
SpaceX founder and CEO, Elon Musk, retweeted this chart from TWC Space Weather showing just how high the waves have grown in the last few hours:
After this launch, SpaceX will have 16 more chances in 2015 to attempt a rocket landing on the barge.
SpaceX has never recovered a rocket for reuse. And they’re taking extra precautions by not attempting the landing this time around because the first time around ended in a fiery explosion.
The rocket had trouble on its most recent attempt, because it ran out of hydraulic fluid, sending it careening out of control on its way onto the drone ship:
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