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The competition heats up: A FAA waiver granted to SpaceX for its next launch outlines the details of the company’s effort to recover the first stage for reuse.
The first stage will coast after stage separation, and then perform an experimental burn with three engines to reduce the entry velocity just prior to entry. Prior to landing in the water, it will perform a second experimental burn with one engine to impact the water with minimal velocity. The second stage will coast and then perform an experimental burn to depletion.
Elon Musk has said that they will be experimenting with bringing the first stage back safely with each launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 rocket. This waiver now gives us the plan for the first launch. It also shows that they are also considering recovery of the second stage as well.