After aborting the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday morning, SpaceX has decided to try again on Saturday morning, January 10th, at 4:47AM ET. If successful, the launch will mark the first time anyone has landed a rocket on a barge out at sea.
SpaceX aborted the last attempt one minute before liftoff
SpaceX aborted the Falcon 9 mission on Tuesday morning one minute before the scheduled liftoff, because of a problem with a thrust vector actuator. "During the terminal count engineers observed drift on one of the two thrust vector actuators on the second stage that would likely have caused an automatic abort," the company wrote in its liveblog. "Engineers called a hold in order to take a closer look." This wasn't the first time that the launch had to be rescheduled. The mission was originally planned for October, but it was pushed back a number of times, until finally the company scheduled it for December 19th. But on December 18th, SpaceX postponed the mission once more. According to the company, a problem with the engine during a routine pre-launch test lead to the delay.
Falcon 9 will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday morning. It will bring supplies, such as food and scientific equipment, to the International Space Station before attempting to land on an "autonomous spaceport drone ship" at sea, 200 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida. The goal of the mission is to see whether it's possible to conserve a rocket after a mission — an achievement that would not only save SpaceX millions of dollars during future missions, but that could also make space exploration in general a lot cheaper. "Reusability is the critical breakthrough needed in rocketry to take things to the next level," SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk said in October, during a talk at MIT.
Falcon 9 won't have any passengers aboard it, and neither will the barge it's supposed to land on, which means that if something goes wrong during the mission — it has a 50-50 chance of making it, according to SpaceX — no one should get hurt.