SpaceX Launches Rocket 6 Months After Accident, Then Lands


This photo of the Falcon 9 rocket was taken December 10 before the launch.

SpaceX sent a rocket soaring toward orbit Monday night with 11 small satellites.

The launch and landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida, were the first from the private US spaceflight company since its rocket exploded on liftoff in June.

While SpaceX's famous founder Elon Musk is typically the focus of conversations surrounding the company, many more men and women are involved with the company's endeavors.

"It's a revolutionary moment", NBC News quoted Musk telling reporters. "No-one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact".

Near the peak of its flight, at an altitude of some 200km, it propelled the rocket's second stage - laden with 11 communications satellites - into space.

But SpaceX has insisted that each attempt has helped engineers come closer to perfecting the technique. The rocket, then re-enters the atmosphere and the goes through an entry burn. Earlier missions tried to land rockets on unmanned barges and hadn't quite managed to stick the landing. Monday night's target was on solid ground at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, according to reports successfully landed vertically for the first time on Monday. Its plan was originally for a vertical rocket landing on an autonomous drone spaceport in the ocean, but those landing attempts did not succeed. SpaceX commentators called it "incredibly exciting" and were visibly moved by the feat.

The launch has marked SpaceX's return to flight almost six months since the June launch. In 2012, Falcon 9 made history by delivering Dragon into the correct orbit to further move into the International Space Station. Last month, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin announced that its New Shepard rocket touched down earth safely. Third's the lucky charm they say and SpaceX finally succeeded in showing that rockets can be reused.

However, Musk's Space X booster was much larger, faster and more powerful, allowing it to enter orbit.

On SpaceX's official explanation of the mission, it's even noted that testing the landing capabilities is a secondary objective. The satellites were all successfully deployed.

ORBCOMM chief executive officer Marc Eisenberg said: "Today marks a significant milestone for our company". It landed at Landing Zone 1, a former launch complex for Atlas intercontinental ballistic missiles that SpaceX leased.

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