SpaceX makes history: Rocket landing first for an orbital vehicle

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This week's Falcon 9 launch, the first since a rocket explosion doomed its June launch (the Falcon 9 is unmanned), went off near-perfect, with 11 satellites launched into orbit on behalf of Orbcomm, a communications company.

SpaceX says that with this technology space flight can become cheaper, as they would no longer need to build a new rocket for every launch. The first stage then landed safely in a designated spot just a few miles from the launch pad.

Commercial space flight company SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket on Monday.

The landing of the rocket was officially only a secondary test objective after deploying the satellites, but it's a big accomplishment for SpaceX, proving that their plan for a reusable rocket really works.

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

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.

And it was the first attempt to land its Falcon 9 on an actual launchpad.

SpaceX is one of several companies contracted by the USA space agency NASA to ferry supplies, and, eventually, astronauts to the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. Landing a first-stage rocket back to Earth is part of SpaceX founder Elon Musk's goal of reusing rockets in order to reduce the cost of space travel. Earlier missions tried to land rockets on unmanned barges and hadn't quite managed to stick the landing. It was also the second of its type of achievement in a month, following the landing of a rocket by Jeff Bezos owned Blue Origin.

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