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SpaceX Will Attempt "Difficult" Rocket Landing Off California Coast This Weekend

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(via SpaceX)

This weekend Elon Musk and his SpaceX engineers will attempt to land the Falcon 9 rocket on a ship at sea, just off the coast of Los Angeles (near San Pedro). The team has failed at similar at-sea attempts in the past—they've described it as "trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm." However, Musk says “ship landings are necessary for high velocity missions."

The Sunday launch is expected to take place at 10:42 a.m. PST, when the Falcon 9 will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, sending NASA's Jason-3 ocean-monitoring satellite into orbit, and then land on a drone ship at sea, according to The Verge. The team succeeded at a landing on terra firma at Cape Canaveral last month, but as the LA Times points out, "Sunday’s effort is far more difficult. The full round trip has been compared to vaulting a pencil over the Empire State building, then getting it to come back and land on its eraser atop a floating target smaller than a shoe box, and not tip over."

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Unlike that missile the military launched last year, seen from all over California, this rocket likely won't be visible to most, but you can watch it all on NASA's livestream when the time comes:

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