Last night, while many were sleeping, SpaceX launched one of its Falcon 9 reusable rockets into space from the Cape Canaveral, Florida space launch location.
The rocket was carrying a Japanese communications satellite, and when the primary mission of putting that satellite into the Earth’s orbit was completed, SpaceX tried to land the rocket on a drone ship at sea.
Although a communications satellite really isn’t anything groundbreaking, they are still important for everyday needs, as they are used for a variety of things, whether it’s monitoring atmospheric changes, magnetic field changes, radiation, or other important factors of space.
The primary mission was successful, leading to a proper orbital path for the satellite, and that means both the satellite and the second stage of the rocket are now above our skies. The first stage of the rocket, on the other hand, tumbled back to the Earth, and within just a few seconds, the booster rockets were initiated.
After the rocket boosted itself into an upright position, it performed maneuvers to position itself over a special ship in the Atlantic Ocean that is specifically designed for landing rockets. From there, it was apparently all smooth sailing, because SpaceX has announced that the landing was a successful one.
The commercial space company shared the following on Twitter on Sunday:
This marks SpaceX’s fifth successful rocket recovery for 2016. After a rough start, it seems SpaceX is really starting to get the hang of the landing process, illustrating how reusable rocket technology isn’t far from our grasp. Despite the achievements, none of the rockets have actually been re-used, yet.
Someday, we’ll be taking these rockets and re-fueling them to reduce the high costs of space travel.
It costs only around $250,000 to fill a rocket up with fuel, which compares to $16,000,000 to build an entirely new rocket and then fill it up with fuel. The cost savings will make space missions far more common and easier to provide experiments for astronauts to learn more about space.