“The Falcon Has Landed” – SpaceX Soft Lands Rocket after Launch in Historic Feat

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing is confirmed back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Dec. 21, 2015. Second stage continued nominally to orbit.  Credit: SpaceX

“The Falcon Has Landed!” gushed exuberant SpaceX officilials following tonight’s (Dec 21) history making ground landing of the firms spent Falcon 9 boost stage barely 10 minutes after if launched on a critical mission to deliver a constellation of communications satellites to Earth orbit.

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Following a spectacular nighttime blastoff from Cape Canaveral, Fla, SpaceX has just successfully recovered and soft landed the 156 foot tall first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back on the ground at the Cape – in a monumental and historic space feat that will reverberate around the world.

Local area spectators cheered the launch and clearly saw the landing. It was one of the most amazing sights they had ever seen, many folks said.

The upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a fleet 11 ORBCOMM OG2 communications satellites to orbit on Monday, Dec. 21 at 8:29 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

About 3 minutes after liftoff, the spent first stage separated from the second stage which continued to orbit with the Orbcomm satellites.

The history making landing attempt of the boosters first stage took place back at the Cape at Landing Zone 1 at about 8:39 p.m. EST after high altitude separation from the upper stage and around 10 minutes after launch.

The goal is to recover and eventually reuse the boosters in order to significantly cut the cost of sending payload and people to space, as often stated by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

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

Ken Kremer

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