SpaceX hoping to repeat ocean-landing with May 3 launch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX is hoping for a repeat performance of the landing success that it achieved on April 8, 2016. Although the 45th Space Wing, who manage the Eastern Range, have stated that no official launch date has been announced, an attempt could be made to launch the JCSAT-14 communications satellite as early as May 3.
A Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket has been tasked with sending the Japanese communications satellite some 22,000 miles above the Earth.
JCSAT-14 is based on the SSL-1300 satellite platform. The satellite will replace the JCSAT-2A (JCSat 8) at 154° East longitude and expands on its capacity to meet the growing demand for telecommunications services in the Asia Pacific region. The satellite is designed to deliver service for at least 15 years.
As was the case earlier this month, SpaceX will try to have the Falcon 9’s first stage conduct a controlled landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship that will be waiting for the stage’s return out in the Atlantic Ocean.
After the April 8 landing, SpaceX brought the stage into Port Canaveral on April 12 where it stayed for several days before it was transported to Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A that SpaceX has signed a 20-year lease with NASA to use.
This isn’t the first time that SpaceX has landed a Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage – the stage will have company when it arrives at LC-39A.
The rocket will join the first stage of the Falcon 9 that the company landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1 after the successful launch of 11 Orbcomm OG2 satellites in December of last year (2015).
According to a report appearing on Florida Today, the fate of the two rockets will not be the same, however. The one that made the historic ground landing last year will be sent to the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne. Meanwhile, the booster that carried out this month’s ocean landing will be tested before potentially being reused on an upcoming mission.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.