Elon Musk-owned private space company SpaceX is back in business and rolling at top speed. Post the successful completion of their ISS-bound rocket mission from the historic Apollo launch pad, the company is today making a return to the same to launch its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a communications satellite. The launch happens just minutes from now, i.e 2:00 AM EDT (11:30 AM IST).
The said launch was initially scheduled to happen on Tuesday but was cancelled due to heavy winds and unfavorable weather. SpaceX today tweeted that they had an open launch window tonight, with 90 percent favorable conditions. Thus, the company decided to lift off during the late night window but there’s a difference with the launch being carried out today.
Unlike previous SpaceX rocket launches which we’ve gotten acquainted with, the company decided that this mission will only include a Falcon 9 take-off. Yes, you’re hearing it right. As announced by Elon Musk about a month ago, the Falcon 9 rocket launched today is expendable and will not be sticking a landing back on either the ground or the drone ship in the ocean. This means the teams back at the control station will only have one reason to celebrate tonight i.e placing the communication satellite in a geosynchronous transfer orbit.
This is actually SpaceX’s first expendable mission in nearly two years since the company has started landing the Falcon 9 (first stage) back on Earth for reusability. It has bagged eight successful landings, some on land while most on the drone ship, till date but this one would be the last expendable mission. The private space company now intends to carry out missions with such massive payloads using its new Falcon 9 Heavy rocket. All future missions will be carried out using this rocket booster, which essentially has the power of over three Falcon 9s.
The said decision has been taken because the Echostar XXIII satellite is a particularly heavy and the Falcon 9 required much more fuel to successfully deliver the same to its orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. Thus, there would’ve been little or no propellant to complete a successful landing this time around. And this is usually seen as a norm in space missions. It is SpaceX who popularized the idea of reusability in the space industry.
So, what are you waiting for, tune in and watch the Falcon 9 take off and make history once again. Here’s a link to the official hosted webcast for the launch: