SpaceX successfully launches rocket, lands booster at Cape Canaveral

SpaceX's Landed Rocket Booster

As the white part of the rocket glided back to Earth, the bright orange light of the engine glowed against the dark sky.

In itself the launch was significant, being the first Falcon 9 to take off since a disastrous explosion destroyed its unmanned International Space Station supply craft in June.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk was quoted by The New York Times as saying: "It really felt like it was right on top of us".

The Falcon 9 rocket at ignition.

Last month, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin announced that its New Shepard rocket touched down earth safely.

"The Falcon first stage landing is confirmed", SpaceX wrote on Twitter.

SpaceX's Landed Rocket Booster Close-up
SpaceX successfully launches rocket, lands booster at Cape Canaveral

The Falcon 9's main objective had been to send 11 satellites into low Earth orbit to boost Orbcom's OG2 network for machine-to-machine communications, and it did also accomplish that goal.

The successful mission, which saw the rocket carrying a payload of 11 satellites before landing successfully in one piece, is being heralded as a major step for space transport and could revolutionise the entire private sector.

The landing was greeted by wild cheering by the mission crew and has been described as a crucial way of driving down costs of space travel by using reusable rockets.

"This has been a wildly successful return to flight for SpaceX", said one SpaceX launch commentator.

The upgrade also includes chilling of liquid oxygen to minus 340 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around 40 degrees colder than the liquid used on earlier flights. It was designed and manufactured by US Space Company SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. A snapped strut in the upper stage was to blame. It landed at Landing Zone 1, a former launch complex for Atlas intercontinental ballistic missiles that SpaceX leased.

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