SpaceX made history last month by successfully landing their orbital rocket booster, Falcon 9, on solid ground after a brief launch into space. Now, in a launch scheduled for Jan. 17, SpaceX plans to do it again — this time landing a rocket on a drone platform in the Pacific Ocean.

The mission, confirmed by NBC News, will launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base to put the Jason-3 satellite into orbit. NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and European weather organizations will use the satellite to monitor ocean circulation and climate.

SpaceX, helmed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, unsuccessfully attempted a similar landing almost exactly one year ago.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 touching down in December. (Image credit: SpaceX)

If successful, the landing will be another step in honing the technology behind reusable rockets. Because land platforms might not always be an option, the ability to land elsewhere is crucial.

Will SpaceX be the company to make reusable rockets go mainstream? Comment below or tweet @MNetKatie.

Associate Editor, Manufacturing.Net