SpaceX: Conditions Go for Launch, No for Landing

From SpaceX:

“SpaceX is still tracking towards a 6:03pm ET liftoff of DSCOVR, but unfortunately we will not be able to attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9. The drone ship was designed to operate in all but the most extreme weather. We are experiencing just such weather in the Atlantic with waves reaching up to three stories in height crashing over the decks. Also, only three of the drone ship’s four engines are functioning, making station-keeping in the face of such wave action extremely difficult. The rocket will still attempt a soft landing in the water through the storm (producing valuable landing data), but survival is highly unlikely.”

Note: The sea can be a harsh mistress. This is the second time a Falcon 9 first stage will be plummeting into an Atlantic gale. The first was the CRS-3 mission which launched on May 18th, 2014.  The investment in the Automated Spaceport Drone Ship notwithstanding, it is no wonder that SpaceX wants to progress to landing on a concrete pad at SLC-13 as soon as possible.

While the lack of a landing attempt with a credible chance of success is no doubt disappointing, as the first flight out of Earth orbit by SpaceX, the DSCOVR launch is still hugely important, and a significant step towards its long term ambitions of reaching Mars.

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1 Comment on "SpaceX: Conditions Go for Launch, No for Landing"

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  1. Elon Musk has tweeted that they are planning “a significant upgrade of the droneship for future missions to handle literally anything. Maybe give it a Merlin for good measure :)”

    This likely involves subsurface buoyancy, allowing the platform to ride high above any waves they would encounter.

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