Billionaire Elon Musk-led SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Falcon 9 rocket at 4:33 p.m. ET on Monday from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. The rocket will be carrying the unmanned cargo capsule called Dragon. The primary objective of the mission is to get the supplies to the ISS. Dragon is expected to reach the ISS 38 hours after the liftoff.
Reusing rockets can cut costs by “a factor of hundred’
That’s an easy part, at least for the SpaceX and NASA engineers. The challenging part is to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on a barge in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Florida. This is not a gimmick or a publicity stunt. If it succeeds, SpaceX will revolutionize space flight. Usually, first stage of the rocket burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere or falls back into the ocean.
Successful landing will allow the company to reuse the rocket, significantly bringing down the cost of space travel. The company says that reusing rocket will reduce the cost of space travel by “a factor of hundred.” It’s not the first time SpaceX is trying to land its rocket, however. It will be the third attempt. In its first attempt, the rocket hit the drone ship hard due to the shortage of hydraulic fluid and exploded.
SpaceX will keep trying until it succeeds
The second attempt was thwarted by bad weather and high seas. But forecasters say the weather will be much better this time. Some major progress is expected in this third attempt because the rocket was roughly on target in the first attempt and SpaceX has added more hydraulic fluid to Falcon 9. The landing is expected about 30 minutes following the launch.
Meanwhile, the Dragon capsule will enter the orbit and dock at the space station early Wednesday. Dragon is carrying 4,300 pounds of supplies and research equipment. It is also carrying ISSpresso, an espresso maker for astronauts at the ISS. It is SpaceX’s sixth mission to the ISS under a contract with NASA.