After a week of delays, SpaceX will attempt one of its famous Falcon 9 rocket landings following a launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida this evening. The rocket's target is yet again a drone ship at sea, but SpaceX doesn't have high hopes that the vehicle will stick the landing this time. The launch is currently set for 6:35PM ET today; the landing attempt will happen shortly after takeoff.
The satellite is one of the heaviest SpaceX has ever launched
The goal of this mission is to send a telecommunications satellite into a very high orbit for SES, a global satellite fleet operator. The aptly-named SES-9 satellite will "provide DTH broadcasting and other communications services in Northeast Asia, South Asia, and Indonesia, as well as maritime communications for vessels in the Indian Ocean," says SES. The satellite is one of the heaviest SpaceX has ever launched, weighing more than 11,000 pounds, according to Spaceflight Now.
Once the Falcon 9 delivers SES-9, SpaceX will once again attempt to land the first stage of the rocket on a drone ship at sea. The company successfully landed one of its rockets on a ground facility at Cape Canaveral in December, but hasn't been able to land the Falcon 9's first stage in one piece on the autonomous ocean platform. SpaceX doesn't expect a successful landing this time, either; the Falcon 9 needs extra fuel to carry the heavy satellite into space, leaving very little fuel for a return trip to Earth.
The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, February 24th, but was delayed until Sunday, February 28th. The launch window for the rocket began at 6:46PM ET on Sunday, but was put on hold due to a wayward boat. A second attempt a short time later saw the craft's engines start, but as they fired, something went wrong and the launch was aborted. After considering a third attempt, SpaceX staff made the call to scrub the flight, postponing the blastoff. On the plus side, SpaceX says the Falcon 9 rocket remains in good condition.
Update March 1st, 3:56PM ET: SpaceX is now targeting Friday, March 4th for the launch.
Update February 28th, 7:36PM ET: After delaying the launch due to a boat within range, SpaceX aborted the mission right as the countdown reached zero. The company said that there was an abort in the ignition sequence, but did not immediately explain what caused it. The launch will be rescheduled for some time soon; SpaceX says the rocket and spacecraft are safe.
Update February 27th, 1:12PM ET: The launch has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 28th, at 6:46PM ET.
Update February 25th, 6:47PM ET: SpaceX aborted the launch this afternoon. The team called "hold" during the countdown, which scrubbed the launch. At the time of the call, there were issues with loading the rocket's propellant, which resulted in an overall abort.
Update February 24th, 6:17PM ET: SpaceX is postponing the launch until tomorrow, February 25th, at 6:46PM ET. No reasons were given for the delay, but the company said the "rocket and spacecraft remain healthy."
Correction: A previous version of this story said that SpaceX attempted a rocket landing on Sunday, but it was delayed instead. We apologize for the error.
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