Re: "floating barge" @Tom 13
No one else has been successful in the unmanned, automated landing and recovery of the first stage of a rocket. Even the Lunar Excursion Module was completely manned and autopilot was overridden and a manual descent was undertaken on the first landing.
The very reason SpaceX tried this landing on a barge is due to the danger of such a landing for the first time out of the box.
Even a desert landing requires a fly over of inhabited land, something that SpaceX was CLEARLY trying to avoid here.
The shuttle landings were ALL at an airfield runway, whether in Florida or elsewhere and were mostly piloted. Only the XB-37 is unmanned. All were lifting bodies and they "flew", not "descended".
The Dragon 9 first stage vertical descent is unprecidented, thus the anticipation of a "50/50" landing. I would say it would be "ludicrous" to use anything else than a floating landing platform.
The mere fact that they were this close is nothing short of brilliant.