SpaceX will try to ace its fourth consecutive rocket landing at sea during a satellite launch Wednesday morning (June 15), and you can watch all the spaceflight action live.
If all goes according to plan, the first stage of SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 rocket will come back to Earth for a soft touchdown on a robotic ship at sea Wednesday, shortly after launching two commercial communications satellites. Liftoff from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is scheduled for 10:29 a.m. EDT (1429 GMT) and you can watch the launch live here at Space.com, courtesy of SpaceX.
You can also watch the webcast, which will begin about 20 minutes before liftoff, directly via SpaceX here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast. SpaceX representatives said the mission has a 45-minute launch window.
The two satellites are EUTELSAT 117 West B and ABS-2A, which will be operated by the companies Eutelsat and ABS, respectively. EUTELSAT 117 West B will be deployed into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) 30 minutes after launch, and ABS-2A will be deployed 5 minutes later, SpaceX representatives said.
The rocket-landing drama will be over by then. The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt to touch down on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" about 9 minutes after liftoff, if timelines from previous missions are applicable.
Landing success is far from guaranteed, SpaceX representatives have cautioned.
"As with other GTO missions, the first stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing difficult," they wrote in a description of the EUTELSAT 117 West B/ABS-2A mission.
However, SpaceX has managed to safely bring a Falcon 9 first stage down onto the deck of "Of Course I Still Love You" during its last two launches to GTO, which occurred on May 6 and May 27.
The landing during the launch of SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station on April 8 was also successful, meaning the company's at-sea touchdown streak stands at three. (SpaceX has also brought a Falcon 9 first stage back on terra firma once, pulling off the feat at Cape Canaveral this past December.)
These landings are part of SpaceX's effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets. Such technology could reduce the cost of spaceflight dramatically, company founder and CEO Elon Musk has said.
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