Aiming to one day radically change the future of the rocket business, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has a bold vision unlike any other to recover and reuse rockets with the goal of dramatically reducing the enormous costs of launching anything into space.
Towards the bold vision of rocket reusability, SpaceX dispatched the ‘autonomous spaceport drone ship’ sailing at sea towards a point where Musk hopes it will serve as an ocean going landing platform for the first stage of his firms Falcon 9 rocket after it concludes its launch phase.
“Drone spaceport ship heads to its hold position in the Atlantic to prepare for a rocket landing,” tweeted Musk today along with a photo of the drone ship underway.
The daring experimental landing is planned to take place in connection with the Tuesday, Jan. 6, liftoff of the Falcon 9 booster and Dragon cargo freighter bound for the International Space Station on a critical resupply mission for NASA.
The ‘autonomous spaceport drone ship’ departed the port of Jacksonville, Fla, on Saturday, heading to a point some 200 miles off the US East coast in a northeasterly direction coinciding with the flight path of the rocket.
The SpaceX Dragon CRS-5 mission is slated to blast off at 6:20 a.m. EST, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The absolute overriding goal of the mission is to safely deliver NASA’s contracted to the ISS, emphasized Hans Koenigsmann, VP of Mission Assurance, SpaceX, at a media briefing today (Jan. 5) at the Kennedy Space Center.
The Dragon CRS-5 spacecraft is loaded with over 5108 pounds (2317 kg) of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, crew supplies, spare parts, food, water, clothing and assorted research gear for the six person crew serving aboard the ISS.
Koenigsmann estimated the odds of success at the landing attempt at about 50% at best according to an estimate from Musk himself.
CRS-5 marks the company’s fifth resupply mission to the ISS under a $1.6 Billion contract with NASA to deliver 20,000 kg (44,000 pounds) of cargo to the station during a dozen Dragon cargo spacecraft flights through 2016 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
Source: Universe Today, written by Ken Kremer