SpaceX is about to launch its fifth rocket of the year on Friday at 5:40 p.m. EST. The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday.
See the video feed at the end of this post to watch it live.
Out of an abundance of caution, launch postponed until no earlier than tomorrow for addtl data review – Falcon 9 & spacecraft remain healthy
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 26, 2016
Although the issues didn't seem to be serious, when it comes to launching massive satellites into space aboard 230-foot-tall rockets, it's better to be safe than sorry.
@SpaceX There was a tiny glitch in the motion of an upper stage engine actuator. Probably not a flight risk, but still worth investigating.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 26, 2016
The Falcon 9 rocket will be launching out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a communications satellite called Thaicom 8 that weighs nearly 7,000 pounds.
Once up, the satellite, built by aerospace manufacturer Orbital ATK for Thailand's first satellite operator, Thaicom, will provide TV and internet services to Southeast Asia.
SpaceX's track record for launches has been nearly flawless this year, with four successful launches and three successful landings — and retrievals! — of the first stage of the rockets. One of those successes took place on land in December; two more happened in April and May at sea.
The company will once again attempt to land the first stage of the rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic. If it succeeds, it'll be:
- The fourth successful retrieval of the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket
- The third successful at-sea landing
- The second successful landing after launching to the extremely high geostationary orbit, more than 22,000 miles above Earth's equator
During SpaceX's last launch, Elon Musk admitted that he wasn't sure if they'd stick the landing, citing the extreme heat and velocity the rocket faced upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere.
But it did. And although it was a hugely surprising success, the re-landed first stage suffered "maximum damage," meaning that it's not going back to space again anytime soon. Instead, SpaceX plans to use the rocket for ground tests.
Perfecting the landing of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets brings SpaceX closer to its ultimate goal: making these rockets reusable, and thereby dramatically cutting the cost of spaceflight. This launch will give it yet another opportunity to prove that it can achieve this.
A report in Florida Today stated on Thursday that the weather conditions for the flight were looking to be near-perfect, with US Air Force meteorologists predicting a 90% chance of favorable conditions for launch. Hopefully, the clear skies will stick around until tomorrow.
Check out the SpaceX's webcast of the launch below: