SpaceX has just delivered 11 commercial satellites into orbit and landed the rocket they used – all in one piece.
SpaceX is making history. According to a report from Time, the company just successfully landed the first part of its new Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, FL after it launched 11 new satellites into orbit. The event marks the first time anywhere in the world that a rocket delivered cargo into space and returned to the Earth without crashing into the ocean.
A SpaceX commentator announced, “The Falcon has landed,” as the event was broadcast on the web this weekend. People in the crowd let out a roaring “U.S.A.!” cheer as the rocket gently touched down on the landing pad in Cape Canaveral.
The satellites launched into orbit by the Falcon 9 are owned by a communications company called Orbcomm. They were launched at roughly 8:29 pm and set into orbit roughly 125 miles above the surface of the earth before the Falcon 9 landed just ten minutes after liftoff.
The launch represents a massive shift in space-faring technology. Reusing the first-stage boosters of a rocket that have successfully landed back on Earth will cut costs and save time, making space travel that much more feasible.
The landing was a breath of fresh air for the space company, which had previously lost a rocket bound for the International Space Station just two minutes after it took off. It has taken the company six months since the failed June 28 mission to rework their launch plans and try again.
A press release from Space X describing the Falcon 9 rocket can be found here.