SpaceX Rocket Makes Historic Landing

There and back again. Elon Musk/SpaceX

Elon Musk's SpaceX made history Monday night by being the first to launch a rocket into space and bring it back down for a perfect landing, a feat that allows the rocket to be used again and again.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 8:35 p.m., deploying 11 OrbComm satellites into low-Earth orbit before returning to its landing pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Mission control erupted in cheers as the rocket reentered the atmosphere about 10 minutes after liftoff. When the Falcon 9 touched down, the room exploded in a roar of cheers as employees and onlookers pumped their firsts, jumped up and down and embraced.

It was the company's first launch since its unmanned rocket carrying cargo to the International Space Station exploded on June 28 — a failure that had put a blemish on a long string of successes for SpaceX.

Last month, founder Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, successfully landed a test rocket at its launch site in West Texas, but that flight went only to edge of space, where it someday may take paying passengers into suborbital flight for a few minutes of weightlessness.

SpaceX's two-stage Falcon 9 is a much different rocket design, designed to actually go into space carrying cargo and satellites.

In other words, SpaceX's accomplishment last night was a much bigger deal.


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