Six months after a experiencing a catastrophic explosion while en route to the International Space Station, SpaceX successfully delivered a payload to space and landed its 230-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket upright upon its return to Earth.
Minutes after delivering 11 satellites into orbit via its ORBCOMM–2 payload, the first stage rocket fell back down into Earth’s atmosphere where it used a handful of strategically placed thrusters to help guide its descent.
As CEO Elon Musk and his SpaceX teamed watched on and cheered, the rocket successfully touched down at Cape Canaveral, Florida, where it had taken off from roughly 15 minutes earlier.
Musk called the achievement a ‘revolutionary moment’ when speaking to the Associated Press.
The reason for the reusable rocket hype is that the first stage rocket tends to be one of the most expensive aspects of building a successful vehicle to deliver payloads to space.
Rather than having it land in the ocean or burn up upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, SpaceX will now be able to effectively refuel and reuse the rocket, saving an exponential amount of money.
Below, we’ve gathered some of the images SpaceX has shared from the historic Falcon 9 flight. Sit back, scroll through and enjoy science fiction come to life.
Image credits: Photos by SpaceX used under Public Domain