NASA announced yesterday that the upcoming SpaceX Falcon launch of cargo to the International Space Station has been postponed until December 19, 2014. The Dragon capsule will carry cargo and supplies to the ISS (International Space Station) on Tuesday, December 16.
NASA provided no specific reason for the delay. They did, however, note that this would provide SpaceX additional time “to ensure they do everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch. Both the Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon spacecraft are in good health.”
Following the launch, the Dragon capsule will separate itself from the Falcon 9 booster. Mission planners will then land the Falcon9 rocket on the ocean platform.
Current plans indicate the Falcon 9 rocket will launch at 2:32 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It will be the fifth SpaceX supply transport mission to the ISS. It will be the first mission to land on a floating ocean landing platform.
The Falcon 9 booster rocket is reported to have been outfitted with a quartet of stabilizing wings designed to balance the booster prior to touchdown. Musk notes that the “grid fins” should deploy when the rocket ascends and re-enters similar to a maneuver made by the fictional Star Wars X-wing. Each grid fin can be moved independently of the others.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk believes reusable rockets will someday reduce the cost of space travel by up to 99 percent. He also thinks that once this becomes a reality, Mars colonization will become a real possibility. Man will migrate to an alien world for the first time in human history.
Musk said that determining how to recycle rockets as aircraft will noticeably reduce the cost of space access in general. Utilizing a totally reusable craft could very well revolutionize spaceflight and boost space tourism to boot.
SpaceX To Land Falcon 9 On Ocean Platform