After a number of failed attempts at launching a Falcon 9 rocket and safely returning the booster back down to earth, Elon Musk and SpaceX finally have reason to celebrate. On Monday evening, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 into space and successfully manged to bring the booster back down safely onto a gargantuan concrete landing pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The response from mission control, which you can check out via the YouTube video below, was overwhelmingly exciting and enthusiastic.
Whereas previous attempts saw SpaceX focus on water-based landings involving floating barges, Monday’s successful landing saw the company guide and land the booster back to land.
The successful launch and rousing landing was live-streamed via YouTube and saw the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket return to safety before the successful deployment of 11 satellites to low-Earth orbit for a company called ORBCOMM. All in all, the mission was a complete and exhilarating success.
To catch the whirlwind of excitement, fast forward to about 31:30 of the video below. The actual landing happens at about 32:40 minutes in.
SpaceX’s long-awaited success comes about six months after the company’s last attempt ended in a mid-air explosion just a few minutes after takeoff. In that instance, a Falcon 9 rocket was tasked with delivering supplies to astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
With Elon Musk as preoccupied with commercial space travel as he is with popularizing electric vehicles, perfecting reusable rockets remains an integral part of SpaceX’s vision to provide affordable space travel to the masses. With Monday’s success now in the books, the company can finally breathe a bit easier and not worry about what would otherwise have been mounting pressure and scrutiny.
Without question, Elon Musk’s executive decision to delay the launch by 24 hours paid off.
Following the successful first stage landing, SpaceX sent out the following tweet.
The Falcon 9 first stage landing is confirmed. Second stage continuing nominally. pic.twitter.com/RX2QKSl0z7
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 22, 2015
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that SpaceX isn’t the only company eagerly developing reusable rockets. You might recall that Jeff Bezos’ own space travel company, Blue Orbit, recently managed to send a rocket up to the edge of space and then return it back down to earth, landing it safely on its launch pad.