SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Successfully Completes Vertical Landing in a Spaceflight First

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Successfully Completes Vertical Landing in a Spaceflight First

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!

A competing rocket company, Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, made a similar landing on November 23, though with a suborbital booster rocket rather than SpaceX's larger, faster orbital booster. This is a huge step forward to creating reusable rockets, thus dramatically cutting costs of space missions. The rocket then re-enters the atmosphere and the goes through an entry burn. The first stage rockets involved in propulsion of the Falcon 9 into orbit were safely returned to the launch pad vertically using propulsion, meaning that they can be reused. However, Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is capable of launching cargo into orbit.

SpaceX employees broke out in celebration as they watched a live stream of the 47m-tall white booster slowly descend to earth in the form of a glowing orange ball.

"Welcome back, baby!", SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted shortly after touchdown.

TIME reports that Monday's launch was the first flight for SpaceX after its rocket disintegrated just minutes after launch in June this year.

"This was a first for us at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and I can't even begin to describe the joy the team feels right now having been a part of this historic first-stage rocket landing", the top officer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Brig Gen Wayne Monteith, said in a statement. Monday's launch was the first since SpaceX redesigned and upgraded the powerful rocket. Up until now, the first stage of rockets disintegrated and landed into the ocean.

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