Just one month ago, the private spaceflight company SpaceX attempted an audacious experiment: landing a rocket on an automated barge floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Although it didn’t quite go to plan and the rocket ended up exploding after hitting the barge at an angle, SpaceX was tantalizingly close to a successful landing and is determined to prove that it can be done. Now, the company is already getting ready for a re-run, and they are due to launch once again soon.
Liftoff of the 14-story Falcon 9 rocket will take place on Tuesday, February 10th, at around 6:05pm EST from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch was actually scheduled to take place on Sunday, but it was scrapped just minutes before blast-off due to problems with a U.S. Air Force tracking radar and a first stage transmitter. It was originally postponed until Monday evening at 6:07 ET, but a poor weather forecast forced the company to delay once again. Hopefully, all will go to plan and you will be able to watch the launch here:
After launching, the rocket will deliver NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory, DSCOVR, on a path towards an observation post a million miles from Earth before attempting to land on the automated barge once again. SpaceX could pinpoint what caused the failure last time, which was an insufficient amount of hydraulic fluid that was powering the rocket’s fins, so this time they have added 50% more. The idea behind these return experiments is to be able to recycle rocket stages so that future missions don’t require a new rocket each time, which could dramatically reduce the cost of space travel.