Update 10:25AM ET: SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket has exploded mid-flight. A vehicle failure caused it to disintegrate over the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX is ready for the third major test of its reusable rocket — are you? Liftoff is scheduled for 10:21AM ET on Sunday, and can be seen above. NASA's coverage starts at 9AM ET. Alternatively, SpaceX will host its own stream here.
Shortly after launch, the first stage of the reusable Falcon 9 — the biggest section of the rocket, which houses the engines and holds all the fuel — will guide itself back down to Earth and try to land on a drone ship in the ocean. The first two attempts famously met fiery ends. But failure is part of the process here, and SpaceX is by far the closest in the industry to making the dream of a reusable rocket become reality.
As we all focus on the landing attempt, the rocket's second stage will help boost the Dragon cargo ship into space. That spacecraft is set to deliver supplies to the International Space Station on Tuesday, and will mark the seventh resupply mission performed by SpaceX when complete. Packed away alongside the usual cargo (like food and equipment) are a pair of HoloLens devices, which ISS astronauts will test in the coming weeks. It's part of a joint project between NASA and Microsoft called Sidekick, which aims to add augmented reality to the daily ISS workflow.
The weather forecast for Sunday looks good, and NASA has the likelihood of launch set at 90 percent. Should the mission be delayed, the next launch window is Monday morning at 9:58AM ET.
Here's the full schedule:
- 9:00AM ET: NASA broadcast begins
- 10:21AM ET: Liftoff of the Falcon 9
- 10:24AM ET: Stage 1 separation (attempted landing shortly after)
- 10:31AM ET: Dragon spaceship separates from Stage 2
- 10:33AM ET: Dragon solar arrays deploy
- 5:30AM ET: NASA broadcast begins
- 7:00AM ET: Astronaut Scott Kelly will use the station's 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) robotic arm to capture the Dragon capsule