SpaceX aims for drone ship landing after Feb. 24 Falcon 9 launch

Launch window 6:46-8:24 p.m.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing has formally approved SpaceX’s request to launch a Falcon 9 rocket and commercial communications satellite on Feb. 24.

News 6 partner Florida Today says the launch window opens at 6:46 p.m. and extends to 8:24 p.m.

The launch will be SpaceX’s first of the year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and second overall, following one last month from California.

Due to delays in its launch schedule, SpaceX has agreed to lift the SES-9 satellite to a higher orbit than originally planned to put it on a faster path to its operational orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator.

With little fuel to spare, SpaceX won’t attempt to land the Falcon 9 booster back on shore like it did — successfully — on Dec. 21.

But the company is expected to try to land the rocket stage on an ocean platform, even though the odds of success are low because of the higher flight and low fuel margin.

It would be SpaceX's fourth try at landing on an “autonomous spaceport drone ship.” The three previous attempts have all at least managed to hit the "autonomous spaceport drone ship," and SpaceX believes the last try off the California coast would have succeeded if one of the booster’s landing legs had not broken.