Elon Musk, the high-tech entrepreneur and owner of SpaceX, has every reason to be excited as his Falcon9 rocket successfully launched into space, delivered a load of satellites into orbit, and then in a “revolutionary moment,” returned to Earth, landing in an upright position on its landing pad.
SpaceX’s rocket launch has been delayed for months after a June launch of a Falcon rocket ended with the rocket exploding during its flight to space. The rocket’s cargo was destroyed.
After checking, rechecking and checking some more, scientists believed that the new rocket was safe and ready for launch. On Monday night, the rocket was sent into orbit carrying a cargo of 11 satellites.
And more significantly for Musk and his team, the rocket then safely returned to its landing pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. In fact, the intact 15-story-tall rocket landed in an upright position. After much cleanup and refurbishing, the rocket will be used in future missions.
The successful breakthrough provided some validation for Musk’s ambitions to lower the cost of space travel. After touchdown, Musk tweeted, “Welcome back, baby!”
While speaking to reporters, Musk exclaimed that, “It’s a revolutionary moment. No one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact.”
He added that, “We achieved recovery of the rocket in a mission that actually deployed 11 satellites.”
SpaceX employees erupted in cheers and jubilation as they watched a livestream of the 156-foot seemingly glowing booster slowly descend onto its landing pad.
Just minutes after blasting off, the Falcon 9’s first-stage rocket detached from its booster rocket, which then continued into orbit to release the satellites of SpaceX’s customer, Orbcomm. The satellites are set to provide machine-to-machine messaging services.
The rocket’s booster then turned around, fired off some engine burns, deployed its landing gear and settled down onto a newly refurbished landing pad.
Prior to this successful launch and return, SpaceX unsuccessfully experimented with landing its rockets on a landing platform in the ocean.
SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Musk, who also serves as CEO of the electric car manufacturer, Tesla.