SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Prepares For Its 50th Launch

Sunday, 04 March 2018 - 1:16PM
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SpaceX
Sunday, 04 March 2018 - 1:16PM
SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket Prepares For Its 50th Launch
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SpaceX
SpaceX will be holding another launch for their Falcon 9 rocket this coming Tuesday, at 12:33 a.m., a specific and very late/early time because their payload is a Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite which they want positioned just so.

But it's also an important launch because it'll mark the 50th time that the Falcon 9 rocket has taken off since its very first launch in 2010. For a company that sells itself on the success of its recycled and reusable rockets, this is a big deal rivaling the recent first launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket (although this will get less public attention since no Teslas will be launched into space).



Assuming all goes well, of course, and there's a few extra risks present during this launch that the Falcon 9 doesn't always have to deal with. The Hispasat satellite is 12,000 pounds and much heavier than anything the Falcon 9 has carried before while landing safely. And since there's only a two hour launch window to get the satellite into space, there's a chance the whole mission could be postponed.

But if the Falcon 9 does have trouble landing, it wouldn't be the first time. SpaceX is still testing out new ways to land their rockets safely, and a recent experiment involving a boat with a giant net (Elon Musk kept calling it a "giant catcher's mitt") went poorly when a falling rocket nose cone missed the boat by that much and sank into the Pacific Ocean




After 50 launches, it's interesting to think that if NASA's tragic Challenger disaster in 1986 hadn't occurred, the use of reusable spacecrafts for commercial missions (like transporting this satellite) may have become an ongoing NASA job to this day, and SpaceX may never have happened. According to collectSpace.com editor Robert Pearlman, who said the following to Ars Technica:

Opening quote
"If the Challenger disaster never occurred, military and intelligence payloads might have not moved over to expendable launch vehicles as quickly, especially in light of the Air Force being on the verge of expanding shuttle operations for its own purposes from the West Coast."
Closing quote


Either way, if the Falcon 9 launch goes well this coming week, you can bet that Musk and everyone at the SpaceX offices will be celebrating.
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