SpaceX will today launch its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and then attempt to land it upright on a droneship in the Atlantic. If the mission is successful, it will go down in history, making strides toward more sustainable space travel, revolutionized by reusable rockets.
But Elon Musk isn’t holding his breath. The tech entrepreneur and his team acknowledge their odds of success tonight are low. “Given this mission’s unique [Geostationary Transfer Orbit] profile, a successful landing is not expected,” the company said in a press release.
In order for the Falcon 9 to deliver the communications satellite SES-9 (needed for broadcast to Asian markets) to geostationary transfer orbit, it must reach 22,000 miles above Earth—that’s 20,800 miles higher than SpaceX’s last mission in January, when the rocket did manage to deposit the payload, but ended up crash-landing after a leg collapsed. SpaceX’s other three attempts at barge-landing resulted in two crashes and one mid-air explosion. (The Falcon 9 successfully landed in December, but that was on solid ground.)
You can webcast tonight’s mission, which was rescheduled from Wednesday, during the 90-minute launch window, between 6:46-8:16 pm ET.