Saturday, December 19, 2015

"SpaceX will try to land a rocket on solid ground tomorrow after its first launch in months"

From The Verge:
It's time for SpaceX to start launching rockets again. After a six-month hiatus from spaceflight, the company plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:29 PM ET on Sunday, December 20th. It marks the first time SpaceX has launched since one of its rockets exploded this past June. And, if return-to-flight weren't significant enough, this launch also comes with an added treat: SpaceX will try to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 after blasting it into space.

SpaceX conducted a static fire test on Friday, during which the vehicle is restrained and the engines are temporarily ignited to see if they're working properly. It took the company a while to conduct the pre-flight test, as it was having some trouble keeping the Falcon 9's propellant cool enough. But after a few delays, CEO Elon Musk said the static fire test went fine and the rocket looks good to go.

The Falcon 9 will deliver 11 satellites into orbit for the New Jersey-based communications company Orbcomm, but the real fun comes after the launch takes place. During this weekend's flight, the first stage of the rocket — or the large portion of the vehicle's body that contains the engines and fuel — will separate from there rest of the rocket and return back to Earth. But rather than land on a floating platform at sea, as the company has tried to do in the past, this landing attempt will occur on solid ground. SpaceX has a landing site at Cape Canaveral named Launch Complex 1, which will serve as the target for this rocket's return; it's also where the company hopes to land the majority of its rockets in the future....MORE