SpaceX and its workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9, are set to launch three spacecraft–including an Israeli moon lander– from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Thursday night.
The SpaceX launch time is set for 8:45 p.m. EST and includes a 32-minute window to launch its precious cargo into space. On board is an Indonesian communications satellite, an experimental spacecraft from the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the privately funded Israeli moon lander. SpaceX plans to livestream the event on its website.
While it’s a big payload, much of the attention has been on Israel’s potentially record breaking moon lander, which is set to attempt a touchdown on the lunar surface in April. If it is successful, it will join an exclusive club of countries, including the United States, Russia, and China in pulling off the landing. It would also mark the first time a private lander reached the moon.
While the Falcon 9 has a big job to do, people on Earth will be eagerly waiting to see if it can pull off a second trick. Following a successful separation after launch, SpaceX plans to land the Falcon 9 rocket booster on its drone ship, “Of Course I Still Love You,” which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX successfully landed its first rocket booster in April 2016 and has since pulled off a series of successful rocket landing and launches used recycled rocket boosters. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has previously said that recycling rockets could open up access to space by reducing costs at a factor of at least one hundred.