Many of us watched the Apollo launches and wondered how many millions of dollars were chucked into the sea as the spaceships shed their rocket stages. It couldn’t be helped, the fuel was burned and the weight had to be shed. But now everything has changed. SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket into space last night from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and then recovered the first stage by landing it upright- right on target!
The second-stage rocket of the ORBCOMM-2 mission is off to deliver satellites, but the recovery of the bigger fuel tank is a first. This historic milestone means that the first-stage rocket can be reused for a future mission.
You can see the ORBCOMM-2 Full Launch Webcast from the SpaceX control. At 32:00 in, there’s a graphic that explains the flight succinctly, and immediately after that, the first stage lands. SpaceX had attempted such a landing before, unsuccessfully, on floating targets, but this was the first attempt on land. And it worked.
(Image credit: SpaceX Photos)