The future of privatized spaceflight is here, and SpaceX is one of a few companies that is leading the way with a number of launches for partners like NASA. The company, led by CEO Elon Musk, isn't just launching satellites into space and resupplying the International Space Station, however. It is also testing new technologies with almost every launch. Most notably, the company has been working to perfect its Falcon 9 rocket, which can land itself back on Earth or on a drone ship at sea after takeoff. This makes the rockets reusable, and therefore cheaper to operate. Stay tuned here for all of the latest updates on SpaceX Falcon 9 launches and tests.
Mar 30, 2017
Update March 30th, 5:00PM ET: There’s still an 80 percent chance at favorable weather for tonight’s launch, according a mid-day update from the US Air Force.Read Article >
Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company is going to take another swing at history today: for the first time, SpaceX plans to take a Falcon 9 rocket that successfully launched and landed in April 2016 and try to launch it to space once again. The launch window opens at 6:27PM ET and runs until 8:57PM ET, and SpaceX will live stream the attempt on its YouTube channel. The hosted webcast is embedded above, and a technical webcast (with no narration) can be seen below. Coverage should start about 20 minutes before liftoff.
Apr 10, 2016
SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station on Friday afternoon, and at 7:23AM ET on Sunday morning, the crew aboard ISS captured the rocket's payload in space. This marks the first time the company has successfully sent cargo to the station after its last resupply mission failed in June.Read Article >
Riding on top of the vehicle was the company's Dragon cargo spacecraft, filled with nearly 7,000 pounds of supplies for the station. Making up more than 3,000 pounds of that cargo is the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or the BEAM — an expandable habitat that will provide 565 cubic feet of volume for astronauts to move around. Once at the station, the BEAM will be attached to the Tranquility node of the ISS, and then inflated sometime in the next four months. The BEAM is slated to stay attached to the ISS for the next two years, allowing engineers to gather data about how the module holds up in the space environment.
Apr 9, 2016Read Article >
In case you somehow missed it, SpaceX made history yesterday afternoon when it successfully landed one of its Falcon 9 rockets on a remotely-piloted barge at sea. The success came after a few failed attempts over the past year, but it represents a major milestone in the company's efforts to lower the cost of spaceflight by reusing rockets for multiple launches. We already watched the landing live, and it's been immortalized in GIFs and a crisp 4K video, but there's nothing like still photography to appreciate the moment. SpaceX has published a series of photos to let you take it all in — you can enjoy them below.
Apr 9, 2016
Still haven't had enough of SpaceX's rocket landing in the middle of the ocean? Well, new 4K video is here to satisfy you and then make you hungry for more. Late last night, SpaceX released high-definition footage taken from a chase plane, showing the Falcon 9's delicate descent onto the autonomous drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You."Read Article >
The extra detail gives you a nice glimpse into how the rocket's legs deployed just prior to landing (and that one of the legs seemed to lag behind the rest). It also shows how the vehicle landed a little off its mark. SpaceX probably didn't want to show off too much by hitting the bulls eye. That just wouldn't have been fair.
Apr 9, 2016
Elon Musk's SpaceX just landed a rocket on a drone ship, so what better way to take a victory lap than to invoke T-Pain? Just watch the video that Musk tweeted, and then deleted for some mysterious reason. It's like The Lonely Island knew the future and wrote this song just for this rocket.Read Article >
It's okay man, you can kick your feet up and relax. You just made history. Un-delete that tweet!
SpaceX made history today when its Falcon 9 rocket epically landed on a drone ship in the ocean. The feat was not only impressive but also felt like one big sigh of relief. SpaceX has been trying to pull of this ocean landing for the past year and a half. I've watched numerous rockets launch and then try to touch down on one of the company's two autonomous ships in the ocean. Some of those tries came close! But all of them ultimately exploded.Read Article >
That's why watching this Falcon 9 finally nail the landing felt like getting one big hug. I don't know about you, but I need to see that SpaceX launch and landing again, yeah? Let's relive it together in GIF form.
The Falcon 9 rocket that SpaceX landed today may be the first of the company's vehicle to relaunch into space, CEO Elon Musk said today at a NASA press conference. That would make it the first orbital rocket of its kind to travel to space a second time.Read Article >
Musk said the company will first stabilize the rocket by welding it down to the deck of the drone ship it landed on. Then, the ship will transport the vehicle to port by Sunday. Once the Falcon 9 gets back to land, SpaceX will conduct a series of test fires on the rocket to see how its engines are working. Musk said the company will fire the engines 10 times in a row, and if everything is working properly, the vehicle will probably relaunch on an orbital mission around May or June. Ultimately, SpaceX hopes to reduce the turnaround time for its rockets to a couple of weeks.
SpaceX has finally landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea, after launching the vehicle into space this afternoon. It's the first time the company has been able to pull off an ocean landing, after four previous attempts ended in failure. Today's success is a crucial milestone for SpaceX, as it shows the company can land its rockets both on solid ground and in the ocean.Read Article >
This is the second time SpaceX has successfully landed one of its rockets post-launch; the first time was in December, when the company's Falcon 9 rocket touched down at a ground-based landing site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, after putting a satellite into space. Now that SpaceX has demonstrated it can do both types of landings, the company can potentially recover and reuse even more rockets in the future. And that could mean much greater cost savings for SpaceX.
SpaceX has its next rocket launch on Friday, and it's one that holds extra significance for the company. Its Falcon 9 vehicle is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 4:43PM ET, lofting nearly 7,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station. It's the first time that SpaceX will resupply the ISS since the company's last cargo mission in June — a launch that ended in failure.Read Article >
Shortly after Friday's launch, SpaceX will attempt once again to land the majority of the Falcon 9 on a drone ship floating on the ocean. It's a feat that the company has tried during four previous missions. Some of those rockets came close to landing in tact on the ship, but SpaceX has yet to recover the vehicle at sea. CEO Elon Musk tweeted that this upcoming mission has a "good chance" of sticking the landing this time, though. So far, SpaceX has only been able to land the Falcon 9 on solid ground post-launch, a technique that was demonstrated for the first time in December.
Mar 18, 2016
SpaceX will get back to restocking the International Space Station with its next cargo resupply mission slated for April 8th, NASA confirmed today. The company's Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 4:43PM ET that Friday.Read Article >
This will be the first time that SpaceX resupplies the ISS since the company's last attempted cargo mission in June 2015. That launch ended in failure, when SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket disintegrated a little over two minutes after take off. The accident prompted SpaceX to ground its rocket fleet, but the company returned to flight in December and his since performed three successful launches.
Mar 5, 2016
This was SpaceX's fourth attempt to land the Falcon 9 post-launch on an autonomous drone ship floating in the ocean. All of the previous sea landings failed too, though the third attempt came very close. The company had low hopes of a successful landing from the start of this mission, since the rocket had to send a heavy satellite into a high orbit. That requires a lot of fuel for the launch itself, so there wasn't much fuel left for the rocket's return to Earth and powered landing.Read Article >
So far, SpaceX has only been able to land its Falcon 9 on solid ground, which it did for the first time in December. Ground landings are much easier than ones at sea; the rocket touches down on a large expanse of immobile land, as opposed to a tiny ship floating on the ocean. Still, SpaceX will keep trying to perfect its ocean landings, since ground landings aren't even possible for some missions. Landing at sea requires less fuel, so the technique is a suitable option for missions that require the rocket to travel at especially high speeds.
Mar 4, 2016
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.Read Article >
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.
Feb 23, 2016
SpaceX is gearing up for its next Falcon 9 rocket launch this Wednesday, which will send a telecommunications satellite into orbit for the company SES. It will also attempt to land its rocket after launch, but doesn't expect a successful recovery.Read Article >
This mission will also take a different path than originally intended. The launch was supposed to take place in September, but was then repeatedly delayed after one of SpaceX’s rockets exploded on June 28th. Those delays prompted SpaceX to change the flight path for the launch to help get the satellite into its intended orbit much faster, according to SES.
Feb 3, 2016
SpaceX will be making modifications to its Falcon 9 rocket based on what the company learned from re-igniting the engines on the vehicle it landed. That's according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, who spoke about the state of the company today at the Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Wasington, DC. Shotwell didn't specify what those modifications will be, but said the changes will make the vehicle "even more robust" for its ascent into space.Read Article >
In December, SpaceX famously landed its Falcon 9 after launching it into space. CEO Elon Musk said that the rocket wouldn't fly again, but the company would do tests on it to see if it was capable of a second mission. In January, the company fired up the engines on that rocket to see if the hardware still worked properly after traveling to and from space. Musk said that overall, the data from the test looked good, but one of the engines showed "thrust fluctuations," possibly because it ingested some debris.
Jan 18, 2016
SpaceX's latest attempt to land its reusable Falcon 9 rocket on a ship in the ocean failed again tonight, but it was a close call — an issue with one of the rocket's leg-locking mechanisms caused it to tip over after landing, bringing the test to a fiery end. Elon Musk just posted a dramatic video to Instagram that shows the incident up close in footage recorded from the platform; it's worth watching as a demonstration of just how precise the landing needs to be.Read Article >
"Falcon lands on droneship, but the lockout collet doesn't latch on one [of] the four legs, causing it to tip over post-landing," Musk says. "[The] root cause may have been ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff."
Jan 17, 2016
SpaceX has failed to land its Falcon 9 rocket on an autonomous drone ship in the Pacific Ocean after launching the vehicle into space. The company originally said that the rocket came in too hard, but after further review of the data, SpaceX concluded that one of the rocket's legs failed to lock, causing the whole thing to tip over. Waves at the landing site today were 12 to 15 feet high, which may have contributed to difficulties in landing. But when asked if the same scenario would have happened on land, Musk answered, "Probably."Read Article >
This marks the third time the company has failed to land the rocket upright on the floating ship; the last two times the company attempted ocean landings, the rockets exploded. SpaceX successfully landed a rocket after a trip to space for the first time in December, but that vehicle had the easier task of landing on solid ground.
Jan 17, 2016
SpaceX landed a rocket after sending it to space last month. It was a pretty big deal! But the next big step for the company comes today when it will attempt to land a second Falcon 9.Read Article >
This time around, however, SpaceX won't be attempting to land at Cape Canaveral. Instead, the company will once again try to land the Falcon 9 on a drone ship in the ocean after delivering NASA's Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite to space. Musk's team came extremely close to sticking that sea landing on two separate occasions in 2015, but both attempts failed spectacularly. (Someone even made a video game out of it, which you should play while you wait.)
Jan 16, 2016
Yesterday, SpaceX re-ignited the engines on the Falcon 9 rocket the company famously launched and then landed in December. The idea was to see if the rocket's first stage booster is in suitable condition to fly again after its trip to and from space. CEO Elon Musk said that overall, data from the test looks good, but one of the outer engines showed "thrust fluctuations" — without going into detail about what that means. Musk said it's possible there is some debris inside the engine, and the company will investigate more closely.Read Article >
Musk has noted that this particular Falcon 9 won't return to space; SpaceX considers it too special to launch again, since it's the first rocket the company has ever landed. But SpaceX still wants to know if the booster could perform another mission if warranted — and how much refurbishment would theoretically be needed to launch it a second time.
Jan 15, 2016
Fresh from its December rocket landing, SpaceX is gearing up to launch another Falcon 9 again on Sunday. The mission will send NASA's Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite into orbit, but of course, the real excitement of SpaceX launches these days is what comes afterward. The company is going to attempt to land the rocket's first stage — the 14-story tall portion of the vehicle that contains the engines and fuel.Read Article >
This time, however, the landing target is a drone ship at sea, not a ground-based spaceport like in December. It's partly because the company failed to get clearance to land on ground for the upcoming launch. But the sea landing will help save on fuel for the return back to Earth. In fact, SpaceX is returning to ocean landings for the next few launches because of fuel considerations.
Jan 13, 2016
SpaceX will be going back to sea landings for a while, despite successfully landing its Falcon 9 rocket on solid ground in December, a company spokesperson confirmed today. That means after the next few Falcon 9 rocket launches, the vehicles will attempt to land upright on one of the company's autonomous drone ships in the ocean.Read Article >
At first glance, the decision doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Landing on the ground seems like a much easier task than hitting a tiny ship bobbing on the ocean's surface. Plus, SpaceX hasn’t had much luck in landing its rockets at sea. The past two attempts have ended in explosions.
Jan 12, 2016
No one enjoyed SpaceX's historic rocket landing more than SpaceX's employees. During a live stream of the December event, the majority of the company's workforce could be seen gathering around mission control, chatting excitedly amongst themselves about the mission to come. And when the company's Falcon 9 rocket finally landed vertically after traveling back from space, the cheers and yells of the crowd were deafening.Read Article >
A new video released by the company today fully captures how charged the SpaceX workforce was that day. Set to the tune of Incubus (yes, actually), the video shows clips of the nighttime mission, interspersed with footage of SpaceX employees waiting in rapt attention to see if their hard work would translate into success. After the rocket lands, they erupt into applause. People can be seen hugging or high-fiving each other; smiles are plastered on the faces of those in mission control. The footage shows just how big of a win the landing was for SpaceX, which had experienced a less than optimal year in 2015.
Jan 8, 2016
After making history in December with its Falcon 9 rocket landing, SpaceX is going to attempt to land the vehicle again on a floating platform at sea. It's a stunt that the company tried twice before in 2015 — and failed at it twice, before succeeding on land.Read Article >
SpaceX is using a different, older vehicle for this launch, which is what prompted the change. It's using the last of its Falcon 9 v1.1 vehicle. That's the version the company was launching before it unveiled its newer, more powerful Falcon 9 — the one that was used for the landing. The updated version has much more thrust than its predecessor, making it easier for the booster to return back to Earth. The Falcon 9 v1.1 isn't as capable, however, and the company says a sea landing will require less fuel.
Jan 1, 2016
SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rocket successfully made it back to Earth last month, touching down gently at Cape Canaveral after traveling out of our atmosphere, into space, and back again. Now, SpaceX boss Elon Musk says, the rocket is ready for another mission.Read Article >
In an Instagram picture, posted a few hours before the new year was set to start on the east coast of the United States, Musk showed the Falcon 9 rocket in its Cape Canaveral hangar. "No damage found," he wrote, noting that the rocket was "ready to fire again." It's not yet clear when a mission that will use the veteran craft will take place, but if SpaceX can regularly re-use rockets on its jaunts into space, then it could potentially save itself a lot of money — Musk says that a Falcon 9 costs $60 million to build, but only $200,000 to fuel.
Dec 24, 2015
Now that SpaceX has landed a rocket after launching it into space, the possibility of reusing rockets isn’t as fantastic of an idea as it once was. But is it really that much more affordable?Read Article >
SpaceX has promoted reusability as a major cost-saver for the private spaceflight industry. Right now, rockets are treated as trash once they've taken off, so companies must spend millions of dollars on manufacturing brand new rockets for every single flight. It costs $60 million to make the Falcon 9, and $200,000 to fuel it, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. Reusing rockets could substantially lower these costs, he says; theoretically, a rocket would only need to be refueled to launch multiple times again.
Dec 22, 2015Read Article >
SpaceX hit a major milestone last night when it stuck the landing of its Falcon 9 rocket. As usual, SpaceX documented the entire event for the public, broadcasting live video and publishing photos from the launch and landing sites so it can all be seen up close. A lot of people were watching last night — both inside and outside of Elon Musk's company — but if you're interested in an even closer look at the fiery launch and landing, see below for a new series of images published by SpaceX. They're available in even higher resolution over at SpaceX's Flickr.