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SpaceX will attempt to return resusable rocket to Earth during ISS resupply mission

"We're really low-balling the probability of success here because this is a difficult maneuver," Hans Koengismann said. "If we can pull this off… we'll be super-thrilled."
By Brooks Hays   |   April 14, 2014 at 12:58 PM   |   Comments

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 14 (UPI) -- SpaceX -- the private space flight company founded by Paypal and Tesla billionaire Elon Musk -- is set to launch its third rocket to the International Space Station today. Only this time, SpaceX engineers will attempt to return part of the rocket and land it softly in the ocean.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will blast off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 4:58 p.m. EDT. In tow will be the Dragon cargo capsule, filled with supplies for the International Space Station -- including a new pair of legs for NASA's robot torso Robonaut, or R2.

Rockets typically shed various components as they exit the outer layers of the atmosphere and enter space. Instead of letting discarded rocket parts disintegrate or fall thoughtlessly into the ocean, SpaceX will try to recover and refurbish them. Successfully doing so could help minimize future resupply mission costs and encourage further investment in private space exploration.

One of the lower segments of the Falcon will reignite some of its engines as it separates from the rest of the rocket -- this in order to slow its descent back to Earth.

"I must point out that the entire recovery of the first stage is completely experimental; it has nothing to do with the primary mission," Hans Koengismann, SpaceX's vice president for mission assurance, told reporters yesterday.

"We're really low-balling the probability of success here because this is a difficult maneuver," he said. "If we can pull this off… we'll be super-thrilled."

SpaceX's latest Dragon launch will be streamed live on NASA TV. Launch coverage will begin at 3:45 p.m. EDT.


[BBC News]
[Mashable]

Topics: Elon Musk
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