Spaceflight Insider

RTF launch for SpaceX Falcon 9 scrubbed

SpaceX is now hoping to conduct the Return-to-Flight of the Falcon 9 v1.2 on Monday, Dec. 21- with a one minute launch window opening at 8:29 p.m. EST (01:29 GMT). Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: Michael Howard / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has decided to delay the Return-to-Flight mission for the Hawthorne, California-based firm’s “Full Thrust” Falcon 9 (v1.2) rocket by some 24 hours in order to provide better chances of a successful landing.

The mission which could see SpaceX attempt to not only send 11 Orbcomm second generation (OG2) satellites to orbit but also to have the rocket’s first stage carry out a controlled landing at Cape Canaveral’s newly-renamed “Landing Zone 1” – which was formerly known as Space Launch Complex 13.

In a tweet issued by SpaceX CEO and Founder Elon Musk, the NewSpace entrepreneur gave the following reason for the delay:

“Just reviewed mission params w SpaceX team. Monte Carlo runs show tmrw night has a 10% higher chance of a good landing. Punting 24 hrs.”


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,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

very good Hope it all co,es out good

Javier Solorzano

SpaceX’s primary mission is a successful placing of Orbcomm’s satellites into orbit (SpaceX has always said that the attempted landings would not interfere with or affect the primary mission). Why is it now that landing scenarios are driving the launch date when that is not their primary mission? The attempted landings are clearly now affecting the launches, they were ready to go Sunday. If by chance Monday’s launch is a failure or the rocket explodes, can the delay perhaps be blamed as part of the reason? Something smells fishy here, if I were Orbcomm I’d be upset. They were ready for launch on Sunday.

Why would Orbcomm be upset? It’s not like they can go to other company that can haul their cargo up there. Worst thing yet, if spacex does achieve re-usability, odds are their prices would drop. It seems like win win for Orbcomm.

How long after the launch is “first stage” supposed to be coming back?

I doubt that OrbComm was left out of the decision to delay the launch. They have just as much vested interest in re-useabililty.

Frosty…My understanding is that the booster return is pretty much right away. Only about 9 minutes, or thereabouts. Can anyone else confirm?

It is unclear if the delay was for a better landing chance or to give time to review results of the static fire test.

Also, it will be about 20 minutes after launch that a landing of the first stage can be expected.

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