SpaceX delays attempt to land rocket on drone ship four times in one week

Elon Musk's SpaceX had planned to try again Sunday to make history by landing a Falcon 9 rocket on a barge off the Florida coast. But a ship cruising past Cape Canaveral and technical problems scrubbed the launch again.


Update, 4:41 p.m. PT Sunday: SpaceX delayed its launch of a Falcon 9 rocket twice on Sunday. The launch was delayed for about 30 minutes due to a ship passing too close to the launch area and then again just seconds before launch when the flight computer aborted the launch for technical reasons that have yet to be determined. The launch attempt was scrubbed for the day and a new launch date has yet to be set.

Update, 3:53 p.m. PT Thursday: SpaceX postponed its planned launch again on Thursday. "Teams are reviewing the data and next available launch date," the company tweeted.

Update, 3:25 p.m. PT: SpaceX has announced that it's delayed its planned launch due to weather.

"Looking to try again tomorrow," SpaceX said. "Window also opens at 6:46 p.m. ET. Rocket and spacecraft remain healthy."

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Elon Musk's commercial space flight company SpaceX will do just that when it tries once again to land a rocket on a drone barge -- the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone barge, to be specific -- Wednesday off the coast of Florida. This will mark SpaceX's fourth attempt to successfully land a Falcon 9 rocket on an autonomous landing pad at sea. The third try failed in January.

The purpose of the launch is to see Falcon 9 deliver the SES-9 commercial communications satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit, or GTO. After the payload is released -- which is scheduled to happen approximately 31 minutes after liftoff -- the Falcon 9 will once again try to land on the drone barge. If successful, the landing would mark the first time in history such a feat was accomplished.

The landing would be a key milestone for SpaceX's vision of less expensive access to space, driven by rockets that can be reused rather than ending up at the bottom of the ocean. The company launched and successfully landed a rocket for the first time on land at Cape Canaveral back in December 2015.

That said, the company said in a statement that "given this mission's unique GTO profile," it doesn't expect the landing to be successful this time around either. If it is, it should be pretty special to watch.

The 90-minute launch window begins at roughly 3:46 p.m. PT/6:46 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and will be livestreamed on both SpaceX's livestream page and on YouTube. You can watch the launch live in the YouTube video embedded at the top of this post.

If conditions for launch aren't favorable, the company has set an alternate launch window for the same time (3:46 p.m. PT/6:46 p.m. ET) on Thursday.

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