First attempts always require a bit of patience. SpaceX’s fifth cargo mission to the International Space Station has been pushed back to December 19th. The launch was initially set for December 16th, but NASA opted to change the launch date to allow SpaceX “extra time to ensure they do everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch.”
Next Friday’s launch will offer something never seen before. SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket system on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean.
I know I’ll be tuning in for that one.
Launch will happen no earlier than 1:20 pm ET on December 19th. I’ll keep you updated once we have a set time for expected launch.
Elon Musk tweeted about the floating platform late last month.
Autonomous spaceport drone ship. Thrusters repurposed from deep sea oil rigs hold position within 3m even in a storm. pic.twitter.com/wJFOnGdt9w
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 22, 2014
SpaceX really is pushing the barrier with their work in the final frontier.
So, how will this even work? “Hypersonic grid fins” have been outfitted to the Falcon 9. They will deploy as the first stage falls back to earth. “Each fin moves independently for pitch/yaw/roll,” according to Musk.
The fins are like the ones in the video below (fast forward to about 1:15), but bigger.
SpaceX’s focus on reusability is a cornerstone in their push to affordable space flight. It’s also the reason other space companies and agencies are playing catch up.