SpaceX had a successful mission last night to launch 11 satellites for communications company ORBCOMM to low-Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral, Fla., but most importantly the Falcon 9 rocket had a successful landing back on land after launch!
During an exciting 20-minute launch, landing, and satellite deployment, the gathered crowd at mission control cheered at every successful stage of the mission. The landing of the 15-story stage 1 spent booster about 10 minutes after launch, however, was the most exciting part of the night – the crowd went wild, the live stream hosts couldn’t contain themselves, and SpaceX employees jumped up from their seats. And this was definitely science and engineering to get excited about.
The December 21 mission was the first attempt to land a first stage rocket on land after previous unsuccessful attempts to land on floating landing pads in the ocean.
Back in June a Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after launch, but six months later the updated rocket completed its mission and historic landing without a hitch. This is a huge step forward to creating reusable rockets, thus dramatically cutting costs of space missions.
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company has landed a smaller, suborbital rocket in November. However, Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is capable of launching cargo into orbit.
Watch the replay of the launch and landing at www.spacex.com and read Elon Musk’s background and thoughts on the mission.
Image by SpaceX