SpaceX commercial rocket company will attempt to soft-land a part of its Falcon rocket on Tuesday. This is the first time such a task will be attempted; generally, all segments of a rocket are destroyed after launch.
The experiment is scheduled to take place around 6:20am ET (4.50 pm IST) on 6 January after SpaceX sends a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station.
After the normal stage separation at an altitude of roughly 60 miles (100 kilometers), Falcon is expected to relight its rocket engines. After this, Falcon 9 will put itself down on a 300-foot-long (90-meter-long) "autonomous spaceport drone ship" in the Atlantic Ocean.
The custom-built ocean platform is already in position in the Atlantic to prepare for a rocket landing.
The odds of the success of the mission is estimated to be 50%, although SpaceX has been practising the controlled return of the first stage of its Falcon 9 vehicle for a while now, having already demonstrated two successful soft water landings. Executing a precision landing on an unanchored ocean platform is significantly more challenging, acknowledges SpaceX.
If SpaceX succeeds in bringing the rocket to a stable vertical stop at the targeted landing spot in the Atlantic Ocean, it could lead to a dramatic lowering of rocket launching costs.
Watch a video of SpaceX rocket's successful soft-landing in the Sea conducted in preparation for the target landing.