SpaceX is planning another Falcon 9 rocket launch this Wednesday from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in which it will attempt to send SES-9, a telecommunications satellite, into space for the company SES. SpaceX will then attempt to once again land its reusable rocket on the drone ship at sea after the primary objective is completed.
The launch is expected to take place within a 90-minute launch window at approximately 6:46:14 P.M. Eastern time, and 31 minutes after the launch, the satellite will be deployed in outer space to orbit the Earth. Should they miss this date, another 90-minute launch window opens up on Thursday at 6:46:17 P.M. Eastern time.
Although it’s expected that the satellite delivery will go just fine, SpaceX doesn’t really think that the secondary objective of landing the rocket will be a success, as recent failures of rocket landings on drone ships have not shown to be particularly reliable in the past.
The satellite going up in space is very heavy, as The Verge notes. As a result, the amount of fuel that will be necessary to get the satellite where it needs to go might not provide the rocket with enough leftover fuel to stick the landing on the drone ship.
Nevertheless, this is an opportunity for SpaceX to do another landing test and continue to learn from potential mistakes so that they can perfect the landing process for future missions.
Landing reusable rockets is something worth exploring because the costs of reusable rockets are significantly less than that one one-time-use rockets. Building a brand new rocket each and every time costs SpaceX $16,000,000, which compares to simply re-fueling a reusable rocket at just $200,000. Such cost efficiencies will also help NASA in future missions as we move closer to deep space missions.
Source: SpaceX via The Verge