Southern California-based SpaceX will attempt to go where no man has gone before; but it’s not where you would think.
Early next month, the company will attempt to land a rocket on an ocean barge in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Contra Costa Times.
The bizarre maneuver represents an attempt by the private space company to reduce the cost and waste of traditional space exploration, by reusing rockets for multiple flights instead of allowing them to burn up in the atmosphere or crash back to Earth.
“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 company wrote on its website. “While most rockets are designed to burn up on re-entry, SpaceX is building rockets that not only withstand re-entry, but also land safely on Earth to be refueled and fly again.”
SpaceX will launch its Falcon 9 rocket on January 6, according to the Times. The rocket is reportedly 14 stories tall and travels at a speed of one mile per second, so landing it on a free-floating ocean barge will not be an easy feat. The company compared the task of controlling the rocket’s re-entry to that of “trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a windstorm.”
“The odds of success are not great – perhaps 50% at best,” the company wrote. “However, this test represents the first in a series of similar tests that will ultimately deliver a fully reusable Falcon 9 first stage.”
The Falcon 9 was reportedly set to launch this month, but became delayed after initial tests on its engines were unsuccessful.
The Falcon 9 rocket launch is not the only current futuristic endeavor for SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who is also the CEO and founder of Tesla Motors. Earlier this month, Musk outlined his proposed hyperloop transportation system, which he promised would carry travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes.