SpaceX Rocket to Attempt Trailblazing Ocean Platform Landing with 50% Chance of Failure
In an upcoming and groundbreaking launch, SpaceX's Falcon 9 will make an unprecedented attempt to land a rocket on an ocean platform after a supply run to the International Space Station.
"While SpaceX has already demonstrated two successful soft water landings, executing a precision landing on an unanchored ocean platform is significantly more challenging," said SpaceX in a statement.
This type of landing is extremely difficult and has never been attempted before, so there's a lot of room for error. The platform itself, which SpaceX calls an "autonomous spaceport drone ship," is very limited in size compared to the size of the rocket.
"During previous attempts, we could only expect a landing accuracy of within 10km. For this attempt, we're targeting a landing accuracy of within 10 meters."
Furthermore, the platform isn't completely stationary, and while the rocket has thrusters that contribute to keeping it in place, it is not actually anchored by anything. As a result of these complicating factors, SpaceX claimed that their probability of success in this endeavor is "perhaps 50% at best."
The Falcon 9 launch was originally schedule for 1:20 pm on December 19, but now may be delayed until January 2015.