Elon Musk’s SpaceX company is hoping to land its next Falcon 9 rocket on the ground at NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility in Florida.
SpaceX has tried several times to land a rocket gently before, but those attempts were made on giant floating platforms in the ocean.
Rival spaceflight company Blue Origin has recently managed to land its own reusable rocket safely on the ground. NASA officials confirmed the terrestrial landing attempt during a press conference last week on the upgraded Kennedy Space Center’s historic launchpad 39A. The site is planned to be refitted to accommodate SpaceX’s much larger Falcon Heavy rocket when it begins launching sometime next year.
SpaceX has spent much of the second half of this year recovering from the June 28th failure of the second stage of its Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket exploded and broke apart less than two-and-a-half minutes after the launch from Cape Canaveral on June 28. The crash destroyed a SpaceX-owned Dragon supply ship bound for the International Space Station.
The results of an investigation on the cause of Falcon 9 failure said a strut inside the second stage’s liquid oxygen tank broke and caused the tank to overpressurize and burst. Since Falcon 9 rocket exploded in June, the company is upgrading their rockets with new engines that can carry heavier loads.
SpaceX’s next launch could happen as early as December 15, but a flight plan has not been confirmed by the U.S. Air Force.