SpaceX scrubs rocket recovery launch2 min read

US company SpaceX has postponed an experiment to bring part of its Falcon rocket down to a soft landing on a floating sea platform.

The company will now try for a launch on Friday.

US company SpaceX has postponed an experiment to bring part of its Falcon rocket down to a soft landing on a floating sea platform.

US company SpaceX has postponed an experiment to bring part of its Falcon rocket down to a soft landing on a floating sea platform.

Once the first-stage of the rocket launches, it will try to head back to Earth for the landing – targeting a sea barge in the Atlantic.

If this kind of capability can be proven, it promises dramatically lower launch costs in the future.

All segments of a rocket are usually discarded after use and are destroyed as they fall back to Earth.

SpaceX, however, has been practising the controlled return of the first stage of its Falcon 9 vehicle.

The exact nature of the technical problem responsible for the decision to postpone the launch remains unclear.

The next chance to send the rocket up will be on Friday at 10:09 GMT (05:09 local Florida time).

SpaceX itself has been playing down expectations, rating the chances of success at no more than 50-50.

SpaceX

SpaceX

“I’m pretty sure this will be very exciting, but, as I said, it’s an experiment,” cautioned Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for mission assurance at SpaceX.

“There’s a certain likelihood that this will not work out all right, that something will go wrong. It’s the first time we have tried this – nobody has ever tried it as far as we know.”

The primary purpose of the flight is to send the Dragon cargo ship on a path to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday.

It will be the first American re-supply mission to the orbiting platform since October’s spectacular explosion of a freighter system operated by competitor Orbital Sciences Corporation.

But it is the outcome of the SpaceX experiment that is likely to make the headlines.

The firm believes it can return, refurbish and re-use key elements of its rockets.

To this end, it has been testing first-stage boosters that relight their engines to try to slow their fall through the atmosphere, attaching fins to help guide them downwards, and legs to make a stable touchdown.

So far, there have only been mock landings, in which the stage is brought to a hovering position at the surface of the ocean, where, without a solid platform to set down, every booster has subsequently been lost in the water.

READ MORE:  To reach final frontier, NASA can't go it alone

Friday’s experiment will be different in that SpaceX has sent a floating barge to the targeted return site some 300km northeast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Sebastien Clarke

Astronaut is dedicated to bringing you the latest news, reviews and information from the world of space, entertainment, sci-fi and technology. With videos, images, forums, blogs and more, get involved today & join our community!
Sebastien Clarke
Sebastien Clarke

Astronaut is dedicated to bringing you the latest news, reviews and information from the world of space, entertainment, sci-fi and technology. With videos, images, forums, blogs and more, get involved today & join our community!

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