Space Exploration Technologies Corp will launch its 13th Falcon 9 this year, on Thursday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission is covered in about two unknowns; the possibility of launching safely, looking at the Hurricane Irma and the aim of the payload it’s harboring for the U.S military.
Just a day after hitting the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, Irma is foreseen to be around 900 miles away from the launch site, according to Patrick Air Force Base. The Base disclosed that there is about 40 to 60 percent possibility of launching, but thick clouds from a different storm appear to be a problem.
If SpaceX combats the weather concerns, the firm will launch its maiden flight carrying a U.S Air Force unmanned flight that has achieved many missions in a year. X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, an unmanned spacecraft with a size of about 20 percent of the retired space shuttle will be embarking on its fifth mission.
For a long time now, the Air Force hasn’t disclosed what the Boeing-built, 11,000-pound vehicle does. After 700 days of orbiting the earth, the X-37B mission stopped in May.
SpaceX’s launch is fixed to hold between 9:50 am and 2:55 p.m local time on Thursday. In a press kit, SpaceX said it would try to land the first stage of the spacecraft on land for another use.
In May 2015, the SpaceX Falcon 9 spacecraft got the approval of the U.S Air Force, breaking a long-lasted lock by United Launch Alliance. The United Launch Alliance is a joint enterprise between Lockheed Martin Group and Boeing.
An X-37B is sent to space once in every few years. As such, the program will not affect SpaceX financially in a significant manner, according to the director of a space policy think tank, Brian Weeden.
In an email, Weeden wrote that it could help raise the comfort level of Air Force in launching national security payloads, which can bring in more revenue with time.
Deals for military launches involves satellites that allow military troops to reach out to each other on battlefields and costs up to $70 billion through until 2030. SpaceX launched a spacecraft carrying a payload for National Reconnaissance office in May.
SpaceX hopes to complete up to 24 missions in 2017 from clients including the NASA and commercial satellite operators. The firm has deals with NASA worth $4.2 billion to supply again to ISS with an autonomous Dragon flight and to ferry astronauts with the version that can convey crews.
SpaceX’s Chief Executive Office, Musk had his worth rise by $4 billion just after a fundraising, rounding the firms value up to $12 billion. Musk also runs Tesla Inc., an electric car production company.