SpaceX’s ambitions are nothing if not oversized. Not content with just trying to come back from the June failure of its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX will also try to return that booster to land for the first time later this month. The rocket company twice tried to land its Falcon 9 booster, without success, on a seaborne platform.
The company has not confirmed its intent, but NASA officials said that SpaceX will try to return the booster of its next rocket launch at a Cape Canaveral location it has designated Landing Complex 1. “Their plan is to try to land (the next booster) out here on the Cape-side,” Carol Scott of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program told Florida Today. The landing attempt is contingent upon SpaceX obtaining regulatory clearance from the US Air Force, which manages Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX officials have described the company’s two water landing attempts on an autonomous drone ship as “practice” for land-based return efforts. The company hopes to eventually make its Falcon 9 boosters reusable, a step that could slash its launch costs by more than half as most of the expense in any launch is in the hardware rather than fuel.