And the man has finally done it! Well done Elon Musk and SpaceX – the rocket they have been trying to land safely after a journey has landed safely in their fourth attempt at this concept. Traditionally the rockets are just disposed of once they are detached from the spacecraft and SpaceX came up with the idea of recycling them in order to cut down space mission costs radically.
11 satellites deployed to target orbit and Falcon has landed back at Cape Canaveral. Headed to LZ-1. Welcome back, baby!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2015
The company has been at it since January of this year and following three failed attempts, has successfully managed to pull it off. This is the company’s first flight after the June incident when its unmanned spacecraft exploded moments later after liftoff and took with it two tons of NASA cargo.
Weather and some other hiccups had to delay the flight but SpaceX finally launched it from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday evening successfully. The main focus of the mission was to install 11 small satellites into low orbit for Orbcomm’s (ORBC) new satellite network and this was successfully achieved.
In words of a SpaceX spokesperson, the task is “like launching a pencil over the Empire State building and having it land on a shoebox on the other side…during a wind storm.” The company attempted this first in January during which the fins intended to guide the rocket’s descent malfunctioned and it ended up crashing into the drone ship it was supposed to land on.
The second attempt took place in April and was almost successful, however, an engine malfunction made the rocket fall off the platform and into the ocean. The June’s attempt of executing a landing in mid-sea ended in an explosion.
The landing on Monday was SpaceX’s first successful attempt to land the rocket on solid ground. SpaceX explains, “A jumbo jet costs about the same as one of our Falcon 9 rockets, but airlines don’t junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York.” The cost of company’s rockets lies between $60 and $90 million.
The mission required SpaceX rocket to reach low orbit – about 100 miles above Earth – and the rocket was required to travel at an angle and with a speed of more than 17,000 mph to be able to put the spacecraft into orbit. Congratulations to the SpaceX team and CEO, Elon Musk on successfully pulling this feat!