A private aerospace company will try to land part of its rocket on a platform in the ocean this week in a bid to make the craft reusable.
All components of a rocket are usually discarded and destroyed after use, but California’s SpaceX plans a controlled land of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at a sea-barge in the Atlantic. The company hopes to cut the cost of space travel if the soft-land is successful.
"If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred,” said Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX.
“A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionise access to space."
The Falcon 9 rocket will transport its Dragon cargo spacecraft as it heads off on a supply mission to the International Space Station. After detaching, the rocked should fall back to Earth aiming for a barge floating off the coast of Florida, officially called the 'autonomous spaceport drone ship'.
Although according to the company the success rate is at 50 per cent, it could forge the way to a revolution in space travel that could cut costs considerably.
"The concept of landing a rocket on an ocean platform has been around for decades but it has never been attempted. Though the probability of success on this test is low, we expect to gather critical data to support future landing testing,” SpaceX said on their website.
"A fully and rapidly reusable rocket – which has never been done before – is the pivotal breakthrough needed to substantially reduce the cost of space access.”
The rocket will be launched on Friday at 10:09 GMT (05:09 local Florida time) after the first attempt was postponed on Tuesday.