SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has often times said the single most important barrier to the colonisation of Mars is the ability to land rockets. Unlike planes, rockets drop vertically, which makes it tricky if impossible to land them without a crash, but the private space company is giving it a shot.
The first test was late last year, resulting in a rather spectacular crash. Musk and co shrugged it off as good results for the future, but not concrete evidence that landing a rocket will work.
The second test happened earlier today, with another Falcon 9 rocket coming back from the International Space Station dropping onto the drone platform. It landed, but just before it did the rocket seemed to swerve, causing it to fall shortly afterwards.
Even though this still does not sound concrete, going from explosion to falling over is decent - not good enough to pack humans into the rocket on the way back - but decent enough to hope for the future.
SpaceX is hoping that in the future all parts of a rocket will be reusable for years. Even though the rocket fuel costs millions, Musk claims that families should be able to move to Mars for the price of a two bedroom home anywhere north of London - give that another 20 years, we could be down to the price of a Ford Fiesta.
That is quite optimistic given the current circumstances, but with SpaceX and a few other private space companies cropping up, it is clear the fight to create the best rockets is hotter than it has been since the space race in the 1960s.