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SpaceX attempts rocket water landing, first stage leg breaks

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SpaceX Falcon 9 with the Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite

NEW YORK– SpaceX attempted another rocket landing at sea on Sunday. A launch occurred at 1:45 pm ET from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California. It was the fourth attempt by Elon Musk’s SpaceX to land a rocket on a platform — known as a droneship — in the Pacific Ocean.

Rockets are the portion of spacecrafts that provide the boost for liftoff, but they’re typically discarded after launch. Now, companies that make rockets are working to perfect landing the rocket safely on Earth so they can be reused.

Rockets are expensive. SpaceX rockets cost between $60 million and $90 million. So the ability to reuse them would significantly reduce the cost of space travel.

After three failed attempts to land a rocket on a platform at sea, SpaceX successfully landed one of its Falcon 9 rockets on land after a launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in December.

The successful landing came shortly after Blue Origin — led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — also landed a rocket upright on land.

SpaceX is conducting Sunday’s launch for NASA. The plan is to deliver into orbit a satellite, named Jason-3, that will measure ocean levels on the Earth’s surface for the next 23 years.

“Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and operational marine navigation,” NASA said.

NASA partnered with several other organizations on the project, including two European space agencies.

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