While Musk has admitted he knows the plan sounds "crazy", he hasn't shed more light on the subject, only noting that a balloon would drop the stage's ballistic coefficient - the ability to overcome air resistance during flight - and preserve its shape while travelling at different speeds.
On several missions, twin boosters from a SpaceX rocket have been able to separate and land autonomously back on land.
Credit: NASA/Leif HeimboldCredit: NASA/Leif HeimboldCredit: NASA/Leif HeimboldCredit: NASA/Kim ShiflettThe Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is prepared for encapsulation inside the Falcon 9 rocket's nose shroud. Currently, she is the only main component of the rocket that an aerospace company in Hawthorne, California, tried to re-use in their attempts reusable spacecraft. They use grid-like fins for stability during re-entry, perform engine burns to slow down and carry landing legs that fold out just before touchdown.
Musk's space company has a long history with the city.
The launch will be broadcast on NASA website or on its live YouTube stream which you will find below.
"We will not de-orbit the second stage, but we will basically kick it out", Koenigsmann said. Musk may be talking about a ballute, an inflatable parachute-like device that could look like a huge balloon. Recovery will require a new target closer to shore, within range of a catcher ship.
SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.
SpaceX's use of a giant balloon for a rocket won't be the first time a company or space agency has attempted to use an inflatable system for re-entry.
Musk has referred to the boat as a giant "catcher's mitt".