Graphic showing how SpaceX's bold reusable-rocket test — currently scheduled to take place during the launch of the company's Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station on April 13, 2015 — will work.
The next booster to come down for a drone-ship landing will have "way more hydraulic fluid, " Musk tweeted on Jan. 16. "At least it shd explode for a diff reason."
The autonomous drone ship, incidentally, is named "Just Read the Instructions, " after a sentient colony vessel from the sci-fi novels of Iain M. Banks.
The main mission on Monday, however, is to get Dragon and the 4, 387 lbs. (2, 015 kilograms) of food, supplies and scientific experiments that it's toting on course to the space station. The launch will initiate the sixth of 12 cargo missions that SpaceX is flying to the orbiting lab under a $1.6 billion NASA contract.
If all goes according to plan, Dragon will arrive at the station on Wednesday (April 15). The spacecraft will spend about five weeks attached to the $100 billion complex before coming back down to Earth with 3, 020 lbs. (1, 370 kg) of science gear, hardware and trash.
The capsule will splash down in the Pacific Ocean, then be retrieved by recovery crews via boat. (Dragon is the only cargo vessel flying today capable of bringing supplies back to Earth; the others are all designed to burn up in Earth's atmosphere.)
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