After a number of failed attempts, Elon Musk‘s commercial spaceflight company, SpaceX landed Falcon 9 rocket vertically on a drone ship in the middle of the ocean in its fifth try. SpaceX finally pulled off the dramatic feat Friday afternoon in its first launch to resupply the International Space Station since its rocket exploded last year.
SpaceX Landed Falcon 9 Rocket in the Middle of the Ocean
The Falcon 9 rocket took off with a Dragon cargo capsule at 4.43pm ET from Cape Canaveral, Florida, under clear conditions.
SpaceX employees gathered around the company’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, cheered wildly and chanted “USA” after the booster touched down on the barge off the coast of Cape Canaveral.
The private spaceflight company, which has shuttled cargo to the International Space Station and satellites into orbit since 2012, set off to deliver 7,000lb of supplies.
And then after eight minutes and 35 seconds SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched into space, the first stage booster came back to Earth and successfully landed Falcon 9 rocket vertically on a floating barge,named “Of Course I Still Love You,”, in the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s another step toward the stars. In order for us to really open up access to space we have to have full and rapid reusability,” Musk said at a press conference afterwards.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, tweeted their well wishes. “Opens the imagination to what is possible,” Hadfield wrote.
President Obama also tweeted his congratulations to SpaceX, saying, “It’s because of innovators like you & NASA that America continues to lead in space exploration.”
SpaceX had attempted this maneuver four times before. Each time the booster stage reached the platform only to tip over and explode.
This is the second time SpaceX has successfully landed a booster stage. In December, it was able to fly the booster all the way back to land and set it down in one piece at Cape Canaveral. And Blue Origin, the space company founded by amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, has now launched and landed the first stage of its suborbital New Shepard vehicle three times.