SpaceX will attempt another historic flyback rocket landing on Monday, April 13.
This will be the second time that SpaceX has tried to land a massive, 140-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket on a platform floating offshore in the Atlantic ocean. (The first landing attempt took place last January and ended with a fiery explosion.)
If the landing attempt is successful, then SpaceX will have proven that a future of affordable, commercial spaceflight is possible. The key to that future is reusable rockets that can be repeatedly launched and relaunched, eventually even within the same day.
Monday’s landing attempt is a very big step in that direction.
The landing attempt will immediately follow a SpaceX launch that is scheduled for lift off out of Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at exactly 4:33 p.m. ET on Monday, April 13. NASA’s live coverage of the event will start streaming at 3:30 p.m.
If bad weather or other disturbances prevents the rocket from taking off at exactly 4:33 p.m., then SpaceX and NASA will scrub the launch and reschedule for Tuesday, April 14 at 4:10 p.m.
Attached to the Falcon 9 rocket is a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The spacecraft will ferry 4,300 pounds of supplies to the astronauts floating aboard the International Space Station (ISS). These supplies include water, food, and important materials to support over 250 science experiments that NASA’s one-year-mission astronauts will complete during their long stay in space.
After the Dragon spacecraft separates from its Falcon 9 rocket, it will complete a number of complex orbital maneuvers to eventually dock with the ISS on Wednesday, April 15.
As Dragon makes its way to the ISS, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will fall back to Earth, and if everything goes according to plan, it will use GPS tracking to fly back to the floating SpaceX drone ship and softly touch down.
Five years ago, a landing attempt like this was completely unheard of, but SpaceX is paving the way for a new era of reusable rockets. The company, founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has gone to great lengths to build the foundation for a future of cheaper space travel.
So far, SpaceX has never recovered a rocket for reuse. If Monday’s attempt is a success, it will be a game changer.
NASA TV will be streaming the launch live starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on Monday. The live stream is provided below:
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