SpaceX will attempt one of the boldest maneuvers in the history of rocketry early Tuesday morning (Jan. 6) during a supply mission to the International Space Station for NASA, and you can watch the attempt live online. NASA officials have said there is a 60% chance of good launch weather for the planned launch.
The California-based private spaceflight company will try to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean, shortly after the booster launches SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 6:20 a.m. ET Tuesday. NASA officials have said there is a 60% chance of good launch weather for the planned launch. You can watch the SpaceX launch live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT).
“The odds of success are not great — perhaps 50% at best,” SpaceX representatives wrote of the platform landing in a mission update last month. “However, this test represents the first in a series of similar tests that will ultimately deliver a fully reusable Falcon 9 first stage.” SpaceX will offer its own launch webcast on the company’s website beginning at 6 a.m. ET).
SpaceX has made strides toward this ambitious goal already. For example, the company successfully brought a Falcon 9 first stage down for a soft ocean splashdown twice last year — once in April and again in July.
Three separate engine burns will help get the rocket stage on course and slow its speed from 2,900 mph (4,600 km/h) down to 4.5 mph (7.2 km/h) at the time of touchdown. The landing legs will deploy during the final burn, company representatives said. SpaceX has also outfitted the Falcon 9 stage with four independently steerable “hypersonic grid fins,” which will be deployed upon atmospheric re-entry to aid in precision targeting. Read more…