It’s only the end of March, but SpaceX has already had a pretty stellar year. The company successfully launched its much-hyped Falcon Heavy into space, sending a Tesla Roadster into orbit around the Sun and captured the public’s imagination all at the same time, and that’s just one of many launches it’s performed. Back in February, the company suffered a rare setback when its attempt to catch a piece of its Falcon 9 rocket — a piece of the nosecone, or fairing, that sits atop the vehicle — fell short. During today’s launch, the company will attempt to catch the fairing again.
The launch, which is scheduled to take place 10:13 a.m. ET, will see a SpaceX Falcon 9 deliver 10 satellites into orbit for the Iridium communications company. This is one of many missions that SpaceX is carrying out for Iridium. The contract between the two companies will result in the launch of 75 Iridium Next satellites. 40 of those satellites were already launched in 2017.
SpaceX, the master of reusable rocket technology, will be launching a used (sorry, “flight proven”) Falcon 9 today, and will not be attempting to recover the booster. However, the recovery of the fairing is certainly something that the company would like to accomplish. The first time around, SpaceX boss Elon Musk was optimistic that the failure to recover the fairing was due to circumstances which could be controlled in the future, and we’ll see today if he was right.
It’s important to note that the fairing that SpaceX is attempting to recover today is only one half of the entire nosecone of the rocket. The cone splits into two pieces to deploy its payload, and while the company is only trying to recover one half of it today, in the future it is expected that both fairing halves will be captured by boats for reuse in later missions.
If you want to watch the launch live, SpaceX will be streaming it via its various video portals, including YouTube. The video window embedded above will spring to life shortly before the launch and feature commentary from SpaceX while the launch takes place. If the launch today is delayed for any reason, a backup launch slot is reserved for tomorrow, Saturday, March 31st, at 10:08 a.m. ET.