#UK SpaceX is about to try something very different with its self-landing rocket



After failing twice to land a rocket on a ship at sea, SpaceX plans to try again in December — but this time on solid ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida Today reports.

SpaceX, founded by tech mogul Elon Musk, wants to lower the cost of getting to space by recycling used rockets instead of dumping them in the ocean after every launch. To that end the company has tried landing them on a robotic barge at sea.

Two recent launches — in April and February — went smoothly and delivered payloads to space, but SpaceX has yet to nail the landing part.

Both rockets toppled over and blew up while trying to land:

Those explosions happened well out of harm’s way in the middle of the ocean. But now SpaceX wants to stick the landing on solid ground.

It might sound risky, since Cape Canaveral is somewhat closer to populated areas, but it actually makes a lot of sense:

“The company still believes it has shown that it can steer a booster from space back to the ground with precision, and that trying to land on an unstable target bobbing in the ocean has only added to the challenge,” James Dean writes for Florida Today.

The stakes are pretty high.

The December launch will be the company’s first since a disaster in June, when one of its rockets exploded in midair on the way to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. And the landing attempt will happen just weeks after Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin successfully landed a rocket after launching it just past the edge of space, 62 miles above the Earth.

However, Blue Origin’s rocket didn’t have enough power to launch anything into orbit around the Earth. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket does. So what SpaceX is attempting here is exponentially more challenging.

Still, Musk seemed a little ruffled by Bezos’ success, and he declared a land-based landing would be next on Twitter:

A rocket costs upwards of $60 million, and right now they can only be used once. If we can successfully land rockets and reuse them after each launch, it could dramatically reduce the cost of spaceflight.

SpaceX has not yet announced the exact date of the December launch-and-landing attempt, which has to be approved by Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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