On Sunday, Musk, the billionaire tech entrepreneur, tweeted that the reason the company delayed the flight to Monday was because there was a 10 percent better chance of successfully landing the rocket.
Orbcomm, the communications company that has hired SpaceX to fly 11 of its satellites to orbit, said in a blog post that the delay would allow “for more analysis and time to further chill the liquid oxygen in preparation for launch.”
Musk has a lot riding on the launch, the first since a Falcon 9 carrying supplies to the International Space Station for NASA blew up. Two consecutive failures could be devastating for the company. But if Musk is able fly successfully and pull off the landing—a historic first for an orbital rocket--he'd regain his momentum and solidify his status as a darling of the commercial space industry.
Last month, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon.com founder and owner of the Washington Post, landed a suborbital rocket, that flew just past the boundary of space. But Musk is attempting a more difficult feat—landing a larger, more powerful rocket designed to send objects into orbit.
Being able to recover rockets is considered a big deal in the growing commercial space industry because it could dramatically lower the cost of space flight. Now, the first stages of rockets are typically dropped into the ocean, after they’ve delivered their payload to space.
SpaceX previously attempted to land the first stage on floating platforms at sea. The stages hit the platforms in both attempts, but exploded. Now, it’s trying to land the booster at what it calls Landing Zone 1, a former test range for Air Force missiles and rockets last used in 1978.
SpaceX has warned residents on the Space Coast that they could hear a sonic boom as a result of the landing attempt.