Musk estimated a 50 percent chance of success for the platform landing on the first attempt, but said the odds would improve on subsequent missions.
"There are a lot of launches that will occur over the next year, " Musk said at the conference, which was called "AeroAstro at 100" and celebrated 100 years of MIT aerospace research. "I think it's quite likely that [on] one of those flights, we'll be able to land and refly, so I think we're quite close."
SpaceX has attempted soft ocean splashdowns of the Falcon 9 first stage on three recent launches — in September 2013, and in April and July of this year. During the September 2013 attempt, technicians were able to relight the first-stage engine twice, but the booster ended up hitting the water hard. On the two subsequent attempts, the rocket stage made a successful, controlled descent to the water's surface, SpaceX representatives said — but there was no platform to land on.
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