After an unsuccessful rocket launch in June, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is back at it. Elon Musk’s experimental spaceflight company, which tests rockets with the eventual goal of putting humans on other planets, rescheduled the launch of its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket for Monday evening.
This launch will be the first since the losing 2 tons of cargo bound for the International Space Station in an explosion just two minutes after launch in June. The true test of Monday's launch will be two-fold. The first goal is to see whether adjustments made since the failed launch six months ago will prove sufficient. The second test will come after the rocket delivers a payload of 11 satellites into space, as SpaceX is hoping to be able to return the booster to Earth intact for reuse. The launch, initially planned for Sunday evening, was delayed to give the rocket a better chance at success.
"Tomorrow night (Monday) has a 10 percent higher chance of good landing. Punting 24 hours," Mr. Musk wrote on Twitter.
SpaceX’s previous attempts at relanding its rockets on their launch pads have not been successful, but those landing platforms were all at sea. This is the first time the company will attempt to launch and then return one of its rockets to dry land.
The new Falcon 9 rocket is also much more powerful than its predecessor, which disintegrated before it could bring cargo to the International Space Station for NASA.
The new Falcon 9 boasts an increased thrust capacity, which may improve its chances of getting into low-Earth orbit and back. It will be carrying 11 small communications satellites for ORBCOMM Inc, a New Jersey-based company that specializes in machine to machine communications.
The launch will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
In November, Blue Origin, a SpaceX rival founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, made a successful landing test of its own reusable rocket New Shepard. The rocket flew to its test altitude of 329,839 feet before returning to its launch pad.
“Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts—a used rocket,” Mr. Bezos said in a press release.
However, unlike SpaceX, which has conducted more than 60 launches, Blue Origin is still conducting test flights.
This report contains material from Reuters.