Fri. Mar 31st, 2023
Watch live: SpaceX isn't trying to crash another rocket [Updated]

Update: SpaceX did it! They launched Dragon into orbit and then made the first-ever water landing on an autonomous drone ship. Ars will have a full account of this historic landing later tonight.

Original story: With an instant launch window opening and closing today at 4:43 p.m. ET (9:43 p.m. BST), SpaceX will attempt to launch its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft into space.

While there’s an intriguing payload aboard the Dragon spacecraft, most notably the expandable Bigelow residential module, most of today’s excitement will come post-launch when SpaceX attempts to launch its first stage booster on a drone ship off the coast of Florida. to land.

According to today’s flight profile, the main engines of the first stage will stall 2 minutes and 30 seconds after launch. The main engines disengage about 4 seconds later and the first stage’s boostback burn begins 4 minutes after launch. The landing burn should occur at 8 minutes, followed by an experimental landing attempt at approximately 10 minutes.

Technical problems have thwarted previous attempts to land the Falcon on an autonomous drone ship. But having learned from those failures, and with good weather today and significant propellant margins, SpaceX has the best chance it’s ever had of successfully making a historic sea landing. Landing rockets at sea is important for economic reasons, because rockets usually use most of their fuel to get payloads into orbit. (Remark: After this Tweet Elon Musk in response to this story let me clarify that i meant “economic” in the sense that it’s harder to complete a reusable flight business case if you can’t land missiles at sea because that’s where most of them will have to come down.)

The live video below should start about 20 minutes before the launch window opens.

Watch the launch and landing attempt live.

Should SpaceX successfully launch and land its first stage booster later today, Ars will have full coverage of that event and its implications for spaceflight.

By akfire1

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