It will be a huge milestone for Elon Musk's SpaceX, and you can watch it happen in real time.
SpaceX is about to blast a commercial communications satellite into space, but that’s not the biggest thing set to happen at 1:26 a.m. Eastern time early Sunday morning — there will also be a critical first stage landing attempt in the Atlantic Ocean a few minutes later, a landing that could be one big step toward saving billions upon billions of dollars in wasted money from dumping perfectly good rockets into the sea, and potentially ushering in a new space age. You can watch the live webcast here.
The Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral carrying the JCSAT 16 satellite, which will send data and video across Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. Ground crews will roll the rockout out of the hangar on Saturday to the launch position, and then the rocket will be lifted vertically and pointed toward the heavens.
The SpaceX launch team will then oversee the two stage rocket’s computer and electronics. The Falcon 9 is powered by RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen. Fueling of the rocket will commence just before 1 a.m., almost exactly a half hour before launch, and then the countdown will start at 1:16 a.m.
SpaceX has had several successful landings of a rocket both on land and at sea. Musk believes that if this can be accomplished with regularity, rockets could be saved for additional uses and save huge amounts of money, allowing for much cheaper and thus more frequent visits to space.
“Following stage separation, the first stage of Falcon 9 will attempt a secondary-mission
objective of landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship that will be on station in
the Atlantic Ocean,” the statement reads. “Given this mission’s GTO destination, the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging.”