Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. of Hawthorne is scheduled to launch an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket this evening, marking the company’s first launch attempt since June, during which the rocket exploded.
The mission will also be the first time SpaceX has tried to land its Falcon 9 rocket on land. The company has previously attempted to land the rocket on a water barge.
SpaceX’s rocket will deploy 11 satellites for telecommunications company ORBCOMM of Fort Lee, N.J. about 20 minutes after lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The devices will complete a 17-satellite, low-orbiting constellation that will help facilitate communications for Internet of Things devices.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch attempt also comes after Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., founded by Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, last month launched a payload-less rocket into space and landed it back on earth vertically, a first in rocket history. SpaceX landed a rocket named Grasshopper vertically two years ago, but that one didn’t go into space.
The ability to land vertically is prized because it allows rockets to be reused, substantially reducing costs and increasing the frequency of launches. That means Blue Origin’s advances could represent serious competition for SpaceX.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 flight was originally scheduled for liftoff Sunday evening, but Chief Executive Elon Musk decided to reschedule the launch for tonight due to inclement weather, citing a 10 percent better chance for a successful earth landing.