Another SpaceX rocket launch is set for Monday.
According to a report published by Phys.org on Saturday, the private aerospace manufacture and space exploration firm is ready to launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets, delivering several satellites into space.
“The California-based private space firm is expected to launch 10 Iridium NEXT communications satellites from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California,” the Phys.org article says. “Iridium said Friday on its website that a static test fire of the Falcon 9 had been completed and the rocket would be ready for next week’s launch scheduled for 1822 [4:22 p.m.] GMT, weather permitting.”
SpaceX gets the go-ahead from the FAA to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on Monday. https://t.co/VLwuTVAj1l
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 7, 2017
This time, SpaceX may be even more concerned than usual about the weather and any other factors that could influence the flight of the rocket. After a couple of mishaps with previous launches, the company’s reputation cannot take too many more dings.
In June of last year, Business Insider’s Ali Sundermier reported that SpaceX crash landed a rocket in June of 2016 after “launching not one, but two, satellites into an extremely high orbit.”
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, sent out a tweet that attributed the cause of the crash landing to “liquid oxygen depletion” causing the engine to shut down.
Looks like early liquid oxygen depletion caused engine shutdown just above the deck pic.twitter.com/Sa6uCkpknY
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 17, 2016
Then in early September of 2016, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a test before its scheduled launch at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The explosion destroyed the rocket and a satellite it was contracted to carry for social media website Facebook, which hoped to use to satellite to blast high speed Internet access to countries in Africa, Florida Today reported.
As mentioned at the beginning of the year, I’m expecting ~70% success rate on landings for the year. 2016 is the year of experimentation.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 17, 2016
Musk acknowledged in advance that he expected to land only about 70 percent of the rockets that SpaceX launched in 2016, but he probably did not expect any of them to explode on the launch site, taking their cargo with them.
That latter point is why SpaceX cannot afford to lose too many more rockets, especially not if they lose them before they deliver their cargo.
One of the primary focuses of SpaceX is the delivery of satellites and cargo. It already has a lucrative contract with NASA to deliver materials, supplies and even astronauts to the International Space Station.
Crashing rockets on a regular basis is not a good business model for the burgeoning space delivery business, especially if you plan on delivering people.
But Elon Musk and his crew are smart. If anyone can sort out the kinks, it’s them. Obviously.
Another interesting aspect of SpaceX’s business model is its emphasis on developing reusable rockets.
“If SpaceX had successfully landed [the rocket that crashed in June], it would have been the fifth rocket the company landed and retrieved,” Sundermier noted in the Business Insider article. “According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, one of these retrieved rockets could launch again as early as September. Reflying these rockets could cut the cost of spaceflight by as much as 30%, SpaceX says.”
SpaceX acknowledges that the rockets are not technically reusable yet, but developing a rocket you can launch more than once would be an impressive feat.
Reusable rockets is not the only impressive goal SpaceX is setting for itself. The company is also planning to launch the “the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two” this year, according a post on the official SpaceX Instagram page. That rocket is called the Falcon Heavy.
A photo posted by SpaceX (@spacex) on
Hey, modesty doesn’t get you into outer space.
If the launch goes well on Monday, that will be one more small step for SpaceX towards its goal of creating an effective space cargo delivery system.
[Featured Image by Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images]