Follow the SpaceX rocket launch

10:36 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

Elon Musk: "Godspeed, Mr. S..."

Elon Musk just tweeted that the boat — named Mr. Steven — will now attempt to catch half of the fairing with a giant net.

We expected this, but SpaceX hadn't confirmed it: Tracking site MarineTraffic shows the ship left the Port of Los Angeles yesterday. It's was heading for a location denoted as "Iridium 5," a nod to the name of Friday's mission.

And now we wait.

Mr. Steven made its public debut during a Feb. 22 launch. That recovery attempt wasn't totally successful. Musk said the fairing landed in the water "a few hundred meters" away from Mr. Steven.

10:22 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

That $6 million nose cone has deployed

This is a key step in the launch.

As we mentioned earlier, the fairing rests on the very top part of the rocket, and it acts as a shield for satellites during launch. Once the rocket is in space, the fairing splits into two and falls away. Typically, it's left to plummet back to Earth where the ocean becomes its graveyard.

But not today (fingers crossed).

10:16 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

LIFTOFF

The SpaceX rocket successfully launched just before 10:15 a.m. ET -- right on schedule.

10:18 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

T minus 2 minutes

All systems look to be go.

10:11 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

SpaceX has tried to catch a cone with a ship before

Mr. Steven, the boat attempting to catch half of the fairing with a giant net, made its public debut last month.

Musk said before a Feb. 22 launch that both halves of the Falcon 9 fairing were outfitted with on-board guidance systems and tiny thrusters, which helped guide them back through the Earth's thick atmosphere. Then they deployed parafoils, a type of parachute, which helped slow the fairing halves down as they hurtled back toward Earth.

That recovery attempt wasn't totally successful. Musk said the fairing landed in the water "a few hundred meters" away from Mr. Steven.

SpaceX has not publicly confirmed that it will attempt to land a fairing half on Mr. Steven's net again, but tracking site MarineTraffic shows the ship left the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday. It's heading for a location denoted as "Iridium 5," a nod to the name of Friday's mission. Specific coordinates were not available.

So will it work this time? The odds of Mr. Steven, owned by Louisiana-based company SeaTran, successfully capturing the fairing on Friday probably aren't good.

10:09 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

There's a boat named Mr. Steven helping in today's launch

At least twice, SpaceX has guided fairing halves to soft landings in the ocean, according to Musk's social media pages.

But there's a problem.

"Once it gets into the water, it's quite damaging to the electronics and components inside the fairing," said Glenn Lightsey, a professor of aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. "Most likely if it gets into the water, it's not usable."

Enter, Mr. Steven.

For Friday's launch a ship, named Mr. Steven, will head out to sea and attempt to catch half of the fairing with a giant net.

Note: SpaceX has not publicly confirmed that it will attempt to land a fairing half on Mr. Steven's net again, but tracking site MarineTraffic shows the ship left the Port of Los Angeles yesterday. It's heading for a location denoted as "Iridium 5," a nod to the name of Friday's mission.

10:02 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

Why SpaceX wants to catch the cone

The fairing, also called the nose cone, rests on the very top part of the rocket, and it acts as a shield for satellites during launch. Once the rocket is in space, the fairing splits into two and falls away. Typically, it's left to plummet back to Earth where the ocean becomes its graveyard.

But SpaceX wants to change that, mostly because the fairing on its Falcon 9 costs $6 million.

As Musk once put it, if "you had $6 million in cash on a palette flying through the air, and it's going to smash into the ocean, would you try to recover it? Yes. Yes, you would."

Here's what the fairing looks like:

9:56 a.m. ET, March 30, 2018

What to watch for in today's rocket launch

You've heard of SpaceX landing and reusing rockets. But safely recapturing the $6 million nose cone that sits at the tip of the rocket? Yes, that could happen too.

Elon Musk's rocket company is due for another launch Friday at 7:13 am PT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SpaceX will set off one of its Falcon 9 rockets to deliver a group of satellites for communications firm Iridium (IRDM).

Shortly after launch, SpaceX is probably going to make another experimental attempt to guide the rocket's nose cone, also called a payload fairing, onto a passenger ship outfitted with a giant net.