SpaceX wants to eventually be able to reuse one of the rocket's boosters, from one launch to the next -- a shortcut that could end up saving lots of time and money -- so engineers have been practicing and testing ways to return the rocket's first stage to the ocean.
Last week, the company tried another soft landing of Falcon 9's initial stage, the second attempt since April. And this week, SpaceX released the footage of their attempt. The video of the first attempt was damaged when the rocket hit the water.
This landing didn't go as perfectly as planned either -- the rocket hit with a violent splash that cracked the booster's hull. But the results were promising, and engineers said they now have all the data they need to make it work the next time around.
The test was really just that, a test, with no expectation that the booster would be reused.
"We are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment," SpaceX said in a statement.
SpaceX scientists saying landing the rocket booster in water will be exceedingly hard. Apparently, taking the rocket from sound-barrier-breaking speed to near-zero velocity and using landing gear to return the booster to a hard landing pad will be a more straightforward endeavor.