SpaceX has tried to land its reusable Falcon 9 rocket twice on a barge at sea but it has been unsuccessful both times. Last month the company did manage to land its rocket back on Earth but it was on solid ground at Cape Canaveral in Florida. It’s not giving up on the barge idea, though, SpaceX is going to attempt the barge landing yet again later this month
The company’s next mission is to send NASA’s Jason-3 satellite up to space, its Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on January 17th. Once the cargo has been delivered the rocket’s first stage is going to attempt landing back on a barge in the sea. SpaceX has restored the barge they used for the first attempt and if everything goes as per plan it’s going to make another attempt on January 17th.
Even though the rocket that successfully landed on solid ground last month is capable of making yet another spaceflight the company is going to send another one up, since that’s the first rocket it was able to land safely and securely, it’s going to keep it around since there’s much more sentimental value to it for the company.
If SpaceX is able to do this then it’s definitely going to earn a lot of praise since it’s much harder to land a rocket on a floating barge than it is to land one on solid ground. The sea moves about constantly so the barge is an unstable platform, landing an unstable rocket on it merely compounds the issue, but SpaceX is hoping that the third time’s the charm.