During the initial test, the first stage will continue on a ballistic arc and execute a velocity reduction burn to cushion its re-entry into the atmosphere, the SpaceX chief said. Just before splashdown, the rocket will light up its engines again.
Musk said he expected to lose first stages during the initial recovery attempts. The company is looking to gain the experience and data needed to bring a first stage back to the launch site next year for a propulsive landing using retractable legs. He said that attempt could occur in mid-2014.
This confirmed the rumor (from March 22, 2013) of an attempt to recover a first stage from a water landing.
A successful propulsive landing would enable reusable rockets which could lower the cost of launching to space by 100 times.
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