Commercial space flight company SpaceX on Sunday will make its third attempt at delivering a taste of the high-tech Jetsonian 21st century we deserve by landing a used rocket on an autonomous landing pad at sea.
The plan, according to the Planetary Society, is that a Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California, in the morning, carrying the Jason-3 sea-level-monitoring satellite toward orbit. The rocket will separate after giving the initial boost to space and (hopefully) make its way to the floating landing pad in the Pacific through a series of maneuvers.
The company's first two attempts at landing a spent rocket on its fancy drone barge ended in spectacular explosions, but it did manage to land one of its Falcon 9 rockets ashore at Cape Canaveral last month after sending its payload of several satellites into orbit.
The ability to land its rockets after use so they can be reconditioned, refueled and reused is a big part of SpaceX founder Elon Musk's vision for driving down the cost of accessing space. Until now, most space programs have been happy getting just one use out of rockets, allowing them to fall into the ocean for all the charming creatures of the sea to enjoy.
If Musk and SpaceX manage to nail the landing Sunday, we'll be that much closer to living in the future, even without the flying cars and real hoverboards that aren't tethered to a magnetic course.
Check out the below rock 'n' roll recap just released by SpaceX of their first successful rocket landing last month. Sunday's launch is scheduled to take place during a 30-second window that opens at 10:42 a.m. PT.