by Brooks Hays
Lompoc, Calif. (UPI) Jan 8, 2016
SpaceX is launching another satellite in less than two weeks, which gives the aerospace company another chance to show off its reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
This time, founder Elon Musk and SpaceX engineers want to land the Falcon 9 on a barge floating in the ocean.
Late last year, SpaceX finally landed its reusable rocket after a trip to space and back. If the technology can be fully incorporated into the company's operations, it could permanently change the dynamics and economics of the space industry.
The initial success happened on land -- after three failed attempts, including two close calls on a floating landing pad. Before they actually begin reusing their reusable rockets, SpaceX wants to prove they can return a rocket to a drone barge in the open ocean.
The forthcoming attempt will happen on January 17. SpaceX is scheduled to carry NASA's Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite into low-Earth orbit.
The Falcon 9 and accompanying satellite will blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After the satellite -- which will monitor sea level rise -- is deposited into orbit, the rocket's main stage will fall back to Earth. Its boosters will slow its descent and attempt to right the rocket as it aims for the floating target.
Though the rocket used in December is capable of flight, it won't be used -- and likely never will be. A freshly constructed Falcon 9 will be utilized.
"I think we'll probably keep this one on the ground because it's quite unique, it's the first one we brought back," Musk told reporters following December's successful landing. "[We will] just confirm through tests that it could fly again and then put it somewhere to display."
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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