SpaceX has successfully sent a first-stage booster to space, and then landed it vertically minutes later. It’s a proof of concept that is supposed to make space cheaper by reusing components, but this booster is destined to never fly again.
On a press call, Musk said “I think we’ll probably keep this one on the ground, just [because] it’s kind of unique, it’s the first one we’ve brought back.”
This isn’t quite the end of the road for Falcon 9, though—after transport back to SpaceX’s pad at Canaveral, it will be tied down with suitably giant chains and fired on land to verify that everything would work, if it needed to.
Not only did SpaceX land their Falcon 9 rocket, but they looked damn good while doing it. This is how to do a return-to-flight with style!
Top image: Landing of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Credit: SpaceX/Mika McKinnon
Launch, reentry, and landing of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Image credit: SpaceX
What did the next stage do? Why, deploy 11 Orbcomm relay satellites! Image credit: SpaceX/Emily Lakdawalla
Launch and landing in one long-exposure photograph. Image credit: SpaceX
— SpaceFlight Insider (@SpaceflightIns) December 22, 2015
Falcon 9 rocket first stage approaching Landing Zone 1. Image credit: SpaceX
Hey there, Falcon 9 first stage! Nice to see you again, all upright and everything. Image credit: SpaceX
Live video from LZ-1 pic.twitter.com/Ve6gEXfOdh
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2015