SpaceX: Attempt to Launch and Land a Rocket on Earth Set For Saturday

PHOTO: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is poised on Launch Pad 40 in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Monday, Jan. 5, 2014.Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is poised on Launch Pad 40 in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Monday, Jan. 5, 2014.

SpaceX intends to show off the reusability of its rockets in a spectacular fashion on Saturday when the private company will attempt to launch and land part of a 14-story rocket part on a floating barge.

If the feat goes according to plan, SpaceX will have upped the ante in the private space race by showing the capability and the reusability of its rockets.

Even the Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, said the odds are split on whether the company will pull off the accomplishment on this attempt.

The nail-biting space spectacle will begin at 4:47 a.m. ET on Saturday when the Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral. The cargo includes critical materials for science and research plus replacement parts for the Space Station toilet, along with personal items and fresh food for the astronauts.

After liftoff, rocket will blast into space and the 14-story first stage of it will detach and hurtle back down to Earth, attempting a pinpoint landing on a floating platform.

The launch was originally scheduled for last Tuesday, but was called off with less than a minute to spare so SpaceX could troubleshoot an issue, according to a tweet from Musk.

This will be the fifth launch to the space station for the private company that is filling in the gap for NASA with cargo deliveries that were slowed down when the Space Shuttle quit flying.

SpaceX also is in the running, along with Boeing, to get U.S. astronauts off the Russian Soyuz and back on a U.S.-built spacecraft. NASA would like both companies to meet a 2017 deadline, when the current transportation contract with Russia expires.