This Friday, SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on an “autonomous spaceport drone ship”, essentially a floating platform in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The platform is merely 300 feet by 100 feet across so SpaceX believes it will be a challenge to land the company’s 70-foot-wide, 14-story-tall rocket.
In fact, SpaceX believes the odds of successfully landing the rocket on the drone ship are less than 50 percent, even noting the feat as comparable to “[balancing] a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm.”
In order to land, the Falcon 9 will be required to deploy its “X-wings” for stability. From there, SpaceX is shooting for a landing accuracy of within 10 meters of the optimal landing site.
Should the landing go smoothly, it would represent a major breakthrough for spaceflight, especially for SpaceX, as Elon Musk is attempting to save millions of dollars by retrieving rockets and/or rocket parts by utilizing these autonomous spaceport drone ships.