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It is extremely rare for a rocket launch to land back on Earth, but Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX hopes to achieve a successful landing late on December 21st.
Musk’x SpaceX is expected to launch 11 mid-sized Orbcomm satellites from Cape Canaveral at 8.33pm Florida time. The 230-ft tall Falcon-9 rocket has been equipped with extra boosters in order to manage the challenging payload.
The Falcon-9 ‘heavy’ was satisfactorily test-fired on December 19th. The December 21st launch is the first since a catastrophic launch failure which occurred back in June.
SpaceX on Saturday afternoon said the timing was still subject to change, hours after CEO Elon Musk had said on Twitter that things looked good for an “orbital launch and rocket landing at Cape Canaveral.”
If all goes well with the launch the main element of the rocket will return to Earth just 10 minutes later and attempt a safe landing.
SpaceX has almost managed this on two previous occasions. Last month Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket concept successfully returned to Earth, albeit with a much smaller rocket.