SpaceX is scheduled for a resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Jan. 6 and while this is not the first time that the company would be sending a space capsule into orbit, the mission could be a game changer as it is poised to achieve an unprecedented feat.

The first stage of the vehicle that makes up the bulk of the rocket as well as most of the engines and fuels is typically abandoned in the ocean once a rocket has launched. This is actually a primary reason why launching rockets into space is very expensive.

Instead of abandoning the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket into the sea after carrying the unmanned Dragon capsule into orbit, however, SpaceX will attempt to land it on a floating platform in the ocean, something that has not yet been done before.

Once the Falcon 9 rocket empties most of its fuel, it will detach itself from the Dragon capsule, which will bring over 5,000 pounds of food, experiment and supplies to the ISS. The rocket will then use GPS tracking to navigate its way towards a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean known as the autonomous spaceport drone ship.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk admitted that there is 50 percent chance of success given the challenges of landing with precision a 14 story-tall rocket speeding at 1300 m/s. SpaceX described the attempt to stabilize the rocket for reentry to balancing a rubber broomstick on the hand during a windstorm.

If the landing is successful though, it could pave way for reusable rockets that could significantly lower the cost of spaceflight. Building a Falcon 9 rocket costs 54 million but fuel only costs $200,000. If rocket launches would only require refueling in the future, millions of dollars can be saved with space launches.

"While most rockets are designed to burn up on reentry, SpaceX is building rockets that not only withstand reentry, but also land safely on Earth to be refueled and fly again," SpaceX said in a statement.

Tuesday's launch is originally scheduled on Dec. 19 but SpaceX decided to reschedule it for early 2015 after the Merlin 1D engines of the rocket did not run for three seconds during a fire test on Dec. 17. The rocket was cleared for launch this month after a second test conducted on Dec. 19 was successful.

If the launch does not push through on Tuesday, the next attempt will be on Friday.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.