A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, built with extended propellant tanks and engines rated for higher thrust, is poised for liftoff on the company’s first launch since a catastrophic failure in June grounded the commercial booster.
The rocket stands 229 feet tall, five feet taller than the previous version of the Falcon 9, and will burn a super-chilled mixture of liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene colder than the propellants consumed on SpaceX’s earlier launches.
Eleven refrigerator-sized satellites for Orbcomm’s message relay constellation are bolted on top of the rocket for deployment less than a half-hour after liftoff at 8:29 p.m. EST Sunday (0129 GMT Monday) from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad.
SpaceX aims to return the 156-foot first stage booster to a vertical rocket-assisted touchdown at a landing zone about six miles south of the launch pad, a first-time flyback maneuver that the company bills as a major step to making the rocket reusable.
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