Reaching for History (But still sitting on the ground)

Falcon 9 sits on the pad at T-Minus 7 hours

Update: Falcon 9 is still sitting on the pad ten minutes after it was scheduled to launch. According to initial reports, today’s planned flight was scrubbed due to drift in a thrust vector control actuator. Pending correction, the next launch opportunity is on Friday.

Original story

By the time the sun rises over the East coast, history may, or may not, have taken place some 200 miles over the horizon from Cape Canaveral’s SLC-40 launch pad.

Closeup of hypersonic grid fins Credit: S Money

Closeup of hypersonic grid fins
Credit: S Money

Although the mission itself is a critical one, as SpaceX VP of Mission Assurance Hans Koenigsman sought to emphasize during a pre-launch press conference on Monday, if the questions posed were any indication, the main event is not the single string US supply line to the International Space Station, but the “50-50” attempt at history’s first every first stage booster soft landing and recovery.

While SpaceX has tried this before, sending out a recovery ship in hopes of hauling aboard a floating booster, with the arrival on station of Elon Musk’s “autonomous recovery drone ship” for the first time all the pieces are in place.

And while the SpaceX founder originally assessed the odds as even, he revealed during a reddit AMA last night that the estimate was “just a guess.”

No one knows, and that is precisely what makes this launch, and indeed this new year, so exciting.

With roughly a dozen SpaceX launches on tap for the year, many of which will offer excellent opportunities to build on whatever experience is gained from the CRS-5 launch today, even the most jaded skeptic should take pause to consider the odds of a success sometime in the coming 12 months. They are quite strong indeed.

Perhaps as high as the 90% “go” weather forecast which came as good news to a launch team which was looking at 60% just two days ago.

The business end Credit: S Money

The business end
Credit: S Money


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