According to an announcement made Sunday, the private spaceflight company SpaceX pushes back rocket launch to Monday, 8:33 p.m., after a 6-month layoff. The initial launch was slated for Sunday, weather conditions permitting.
The company also said that on Monday evening there is an 80 percent chance to have clear skies above the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company’s CEO Elon Musk added that the weather on Monday would be more favorable for a secondary objective of the mission – landing the rocket booster back at the launch station.
Orbcomm, the maker of the 11-satellite fleet that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is supposed to ferry to orbit, also needs more time to analyze the data from a Friday’s test flight, when the rocket’s nine engines were ignited for a brief moment.
When the rocket gets back home, residents in the vicinity of the launch pad should hear a sonic boom before actually seeing the light emitted by the engine that would try to slow down the booster before hitting the ground late in the night.
If the return mission is successful, SpaceX would have achieved its long-time dream of reusing space rockets and keep spaceflight costs to a minimum. The company tried to recover rocket boosters twice this year, but the touchdowns with a floating platform in the Atlantic were near-misses on both occasions.
The last attempt was in June this year. A similar mission was deemed successful late last month, when another privately owned spaceflight company, Blue Origin, managed to bring back to the ground a much smaller rocket after ending its suborbital mission.
Nevertheless, some critics are concerned that SpaceX return mission could be hazardous to people living in the nearby areas. But officials said that all precautionary measures had been taken. For instance, an Air Force unit will be ready at any time blast the booster if it strays to a populated area.
Additionally, the launch would not have got The Federal Aviation Administration’s approval, if its experts had found that the return mission would pose a risk to the public. On the other hand, ‘non-essential personnel’ and journalists would no longer be able to witness the launch from the station.
Local authorities who are prepared to send to the site emergency crews in case of disaster said that an ‘off-site mishap’ had an extremely low chance. Basically, the chance of such incidence to occur makes it a ‘non-event,’ authorities added.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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