SpaceX Plans Launch, Landing on Sunday – UPDATED

SpaceX Plans Launch, Landing on Sunday – UPDATED

SpaceX will not only attempt its return-to-flight launch of Falcon 9 tomorrow night (Sunday), but to return its first stage to a landing back at Cape Canaveral, FL.  This will be the first Falcon 9 launch since a failure on June 28 and the first attempt to land the first stage on land rather than at sea. [Updated with webcast information.]

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted yesterday that a static fire test was successful and launch would take place on Sunday pending final review of the test data.   Today, he tweeted that the launch would indeed be conducted Sunday as well as the landing.

The Falcon 9 will launch 11 ORBCOMM OG2 satellites to low Earth orbit. ORBCOMM tweeted today that the launch will take place “no earlier than” 8:29 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).

SpaceX announced Saturday evening that it will livestream the launch beginning at 8:00 pm ET. 

SpaceX is planning four launches in the next two months.

Musk wants to make the Falcon 9 first stage reusable and has conducted several tests where the first stage returned to Earth after sending the payload on its way to space.  Initially, the first stage would hover briefly over the ocean and then fall over into the water.  Later, SpaceX attempted to land it on an unoccupied autonomous drone ship (which many refer to as a barge, but it has an engine and barges do not).   The two attempts failed, but the second time it almost succeeded.  

The goal, however, is to land it on land so it can be quickly turned around and readied for the next launch.  SpaceX has been trying to get the necessary approvals from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which facilitates and regulates the commercial space launch industry, and the Air Force, which owns the pads at CCAFS where the launch and landing will take place.   Musk’s tweet suggests the approvals have been granted.

The weather forecast for a launch tomorrow is 90% favorable.

Blue Origin, a company owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, is developing a suborbital rocket, New Shepard.  It successfully launched and landed one of those rockets at its West Texas facility last month.   The achievement generated considerable media attention, but some observers, including Musk, pointed out that returning a rocket from orbital velocities is dramatically more difficult than from a suborbital launch.


User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.