SpaceX Nails Perfect Return to Flight Launch and Historic Vertical Return Landing – Gallery

Long exposure of launch, re-entry, and landing burns of SpaceX Falcon 9 on Dec. 21, 2015. Credit: SpaceX

“There and back again,” said SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk after the amazing successful ‘Return to Flight’ launch of the firms Falcon 9 rocket and history making vertical return landing at Cape Canaveral, Fla, on Monday evening, Dec. 21.

For the first time in history, the first stage of a rocket blazing to orbit with a payload, separated successfully from the upper stage at high speed, turned around and then flew back for a successful rocket assisted upright touchdown back on the ground.

The upgraded “full thrust” SpaceX Falcon 9 blasted off Monday night, Dec. 21 at 8:29 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. carrying a constellation of ORBCOMM OG2 communications satellites to low Earth orbit.

“The Falcon Has Landed!” gushed exuberant SpaceX officials during a live webscast.

Accompanied by multiple shocking loud sonic boom, the 156 foot tall Falcon 9 first stage separted about 3 minutes into flight and landed successfully on the ground about 10 minutes later at the SpaceX Landing Zone 1 complex at the Cape, some six miles south from pad 40.

See the dramatic landing in this SpaceX video taken from a nearby helicopter:

Here’s an expanding galley of photos and video for the Dec 21, 2015 launch and landing at Cape Canaveral.

So check back later for more!

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post SpaceX Nails Perfect Return to Flight Launch and Historic Vertical Return Landing – Gallery appeared first on Universe Today.

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