SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket

The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 shown in a time exposure at Cape Canaveral Fla. on Dec. 21

Elon Musk's SpaceX not only blasted 11 satellites to orbit on Monday, but also brought its towering first-stage booster back down, with a historic landing at a pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

On Monday, the company successfully launched a payload of 11 satellites into low Earth orbit and - this is the really exciting part - finally managed to land its Falcon 9 rocket intact. This video, which SpaceX released Tuesday, shows the vertical landing from the vantage point of a helicopter hovering nearby. The Falcon rocket launched on Monday also included a more powerful first-stage engine and a beefed-up landing system.

It was the first time a rocket launched into orbit successfully made a controlled landing on Earth.

Miriam Kramer contributed reporting.

When everything then looked like a go Sunday, Musk tweeted that he had chose to wait one day when the conditions for landing the rocket looked 10 percent better.

It was the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and represented a tremendous success for SpaceX. Earlier this year SpaceX tried to stick such a landing using a modified barge as a touchdown site, but failed at all three attempts.

Musk has previously said he believes reusing rockets - which cost as much as a commercial airplane - could reduce the cost of access to space by a factor of one hundred. Blue Origin, founder Jeff Bezos' company, landed a booster during a suborbital flight test run in November. In the meantime, he's working to transform the SpaceX Dragon capsules from cargo ships into real spaceships for crews travelling to and from the orbiting station.

SpaceX, which has more than 60 launch missions pending collectively worth about $8 billion, previously experimented unsuccessfully with attempts to land its rockets on a platform in the ocean.

Related News: