SpaceX Makes History With ‘Insane’ Launch, Proving Rockets Can Be Reused

SpaceX made history Monday night when it successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit, deployed 11 satellites, and then brought the 15-story booster back to Earth for a soft, vertical landing just six miles from where it took off at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

It marks the first time billionaire Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, has attempted to land a rocket on land and the first ever successful attempt to recover a rocket from an orbital flight, NBC News reports.

As the rocket came to rest on its landing pad, a SpaceX webcast commentator confirmed, “The Falcon has landed,” drawing an eruption of applause from those gathered at the based private space flight company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Long exposure of launch, re-entry, and landing burns

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 22, 2015

Monday’s breakthrough comes just six months after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded shortly after takeoff while carrying supplies to the International Space Station. Several other previous attempts to land a Falcon 9 on floating platforms in the Atlantic also were unsuccessful.

In an attempt to explain just how complicated the mission was, one SpaceX commentator compared it with “launching a pencil over the Empire State Building, having it reverse, come back down, and land on a shoebox on the ground during a windstorm.”

“It’s an insane thing to try and do,” he said.

The successful landing actually was a second objective of the mission, according to SpaceX. The first was to deploy the rocket’s payload — 11 ORBCOMM satellites —> Read More