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SpaceX has decided not to attempt a soft splashdown of the Falcon 9 first stage during Saturday’s launch of the Dragon capsule to ISS.
In a change of plans, the Falcon 9 booster stage set to launch Saturday will not carry landing legs, according to Hannah Post, a SpaceX spokesperson. She said SpaceX does not plan to attempt a water landing of the first stage after its job during launch is completed.
SpaceX initially planned to program the rocket’s first stage to fly back to Earth after completing its work to boost the Dragon spacecraft off the launch pad, but engineers swapped out the Falcon 9 booster with a first stage originally assigned to another flight, officials said.
The reason for the changeout was not disclosed.
I suspect this decision is in connection with the Falcon 9R failure last month, but admit I am speculating with no inside knowledge.
I should also note that if Saturday’s launch goes as planned, it will set a new SpaceX record for the fastest turn-around between launches, less than two weeks. If they succeed, I think they will prove once and for all to most of their remaining naysayers that they are a serious, reliable, and well-run launch company.