Will SpaceX manage their next (and even trickier) attempt at landing a rocket neatly on a drone ship? Let’s watch and find out.
This afternoon, SpaceX will be launching another of its Falcon 9 rockets — this one carting a JCSAT-14 communications satellite — and then attempting to set it down gently on a waiting drone ship below. SpaceX made its very first drone ship landing just last month, when a different Falcon 9 rocket touched down on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You minutes after having launched a resupply mission up to the ISS.
The touchdown came after a series of crashes, falls and explosions as SpaceX figured out how to land on rocket on a ship. Now that the company has pulled off the feat, however, SpaceX has ushered in a new era for reusable rockets as well as the option to choose landing points almost anywhere on the ocean.
There is a catch. SpaceX says that this landing is “unlikely” to be a repeat of that success. Because this Falcon 9 is set for a geostationary transfer orbit, the rocket will be coming in much faster and hotter onto the Of Course I Still Love You than the last rocket. While it’s still possible SpaceX could manage a touchdown, the most likely outcome for this landing attempt is a crash.
The launch will take place at 3:21pm AEST (1:21am EST) on May 6 (although the livestream will kick off about a half an hour prior). The launch was originally scheduled for that time yesterday, but was called off on account of weather. You can watch along with us right here.
Image: SpaceX’s first drone ship landing, as seen from the drone ship / SpaceX