SpaceX launches Falcon rocket, pulls off successful booster landing

SpaceX sent a Falcon rocket soaring toward orbit Monday night with 11 small satellites, its first mission since an accident last summer.

See Full Article

Then in an even more amazing feat, it landed the 15-story leftover booster back on Earth safely.

It was the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and represented a tremendous success for SpaceX. The company led by billionaire Elon Musk is striving for reusability to drive launch costs down and open up space to more people.

SpaceX employees broke into cheers and chants, some of them jumping up and down, following the smooth touchdown nine minutes after liftoff. Previous landing attempts ended in fiery blasts, but those aimed for an ocean platform.

"The Falcon has landed," SpaceX TV commentators announced.

The top officer at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, noted that the returning booster "placed the exclamation mark on 2015."

"This was a first for us at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and I can't even begin to describe the excitement the team feels right now having been a part of this historic first-stage rocket landing," Monteith said in a statement.

Across the country, SpaceX employees jammed company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, anxiously awaiting success outside Mission Control. They cheered at full throttle when the first stage separated cleanly two minutes into flight and reoriented itself for an unprecedented return to Cape Canaveral. Then the roar became deafening, as TV cameras showed the first-stage booster landing on extended legs at its new, dedicated landing zone. SpaceX commentators called it "incredibly exciting" and were visibly moved by the feat.

"This has been a wildly successful return to flight for SpaceX," said one SpaceX launch commentator. "We made history today."

The touchdown was a secondary objective for SpaceX. The first was hoisting the satellites for OrbComm, a New Jersey-based communication company. All 11 were successfully deployed.

OrbComm chief executive officer Marc Eisenberg seemed just as excited about the booster landing as his satellites reaching orbit.

"Here she comes back," Eisenberg said via Twitter, sharing a photo of the returning booster. Then: "Bullseye."

The booster-landing zone, a former Atlas missile-launching site, is about six miles from the launch pad. SpaceX is leasing the touchdown area -- marked by a giant X -- from the Air Force. The reinforced concrete provides a stable surface, unlike the barges used for the initial attempts, primarily for increased safety.

On its previous flight back in June, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket failed shortly after liftoff, destroying a supply ship intended for the International Space Station. A snapped strut in the upper stage was to blame. SpaceX spent months correcting the problem and improving the unmanned rocket. It hopes to resume supply runs for NASA in February.

Musk, who also runs the Tesla electric car company, says he can drastically reduce launch costs by reusing rocket parts. Three tries at vertical landings of the first-stage boosters earlier this year failed; in each case, the segment aimed for a modified barge off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. This time, Musk opted for a true land landing. His ultimate goal, for human missions, is Mars. Besides the space station supply runs, he's working to turn the Dragon capsules into spaceships for crews travelling to and from the orbiting lab.

Blue Origin, another billionaire's rocket company, successfully landed a booster last month in West Texas. That rocket, though, had been used for a suborbital flight. The SpaceX booster was more powerful and flying faster in order to put satellites into orbit.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Warming to trigger 3 times as many downpours in U.S.: study

    Tech & Science CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Extreme downpours -- like those that flooded Louisiana, Houston and West Virginia earlier this year -- will happen nearly three times as often in the United States by the end of the century, and six times more frequently in parts of the Mississippi Delta, according to a new study. Source
  • Campaign aims to educate Canada's youth about changing technology

    Tech & Science CTV News
    OTTAWA - A campaign aimed at encouraging young people to get into computer programming is getting a boost from Justin Trudeau. The prime minister is set to join the co-founders of Canada Learning Code and Code.org today to mark the launch of Computer Science Education Week at an event called Hour of Code, with several dozen students gathered at Ottawa-based e-commerce firm Shopify. Source
  • Fukushima reactor briefly loses cooling during inspection

    Tech & Science CTV News
    TOKYO -- One of the melted reactors at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant had a temporary loss of cooling Monday when a worker accidentally bumped a switch while passing through a narrow isle of switch panels during an inspection and turned off the pumping system. Source
  • Cool tech toys for the kid in your life

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Looking for a cool tech gift for a kid in your life? There's no shortage of fun and fairly educational items these days. New toys for the holidays include little robot friends full of personality and magnetic blocks that snap together to teach the basics of computer programing. Source
  • Environment Canada tests new supercomputer to forecast weather

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Environment Canada's meteorological service has a powerful new supercomputer to help it more accurately forecast the weather — the government just doesn't want you to know about it yet. CBC News has learned IBM Canada won the $430,421,404 contract, which has not yet been announced to the public. Source
  • Ransomware doesn't just target the big guys

    Tech & Science CBC News
    It sounds like the plot of a blockbuster movie: a metropolitan transit system is hit by a ransomware attack that freezes its entire ticketing infrastructure. A message from the hacker is splayed across the terminals' public displays: "You are Hacked. Source
  • Rare weasel species makes a comeback in Washington state

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. -- The elusive weasel-like mammal poked its head out of the wooden crate, glanced around and quickly darted into the thick forest of Mount Rainier National Park -- returning to a landscape where it had been missing for seven decades. Source
  • Explosive advances in DNA testing raise hope, ethical questions

    Tech & Science CBC News
    A Calgary author and university professor says advances in DNA testing available to the average person are taking off, but alongside that comes ethical questions Canadians will be forced to address. Tom Keenan, author of Technocreep and a professor of environmental design at the University of Calgary, says genetic testing has come a long way. Source
  • Is your office building making you sick?

    Tech & Science CBC News
    more stories from this episodeSocial media is damaging your careerChinese millennials head for the hills - to disconnectIt's time to ditch the traditional *#@&! keyboard!Is your office building making you sick?Your next digital storage solution? A salt mine. Source
  • Killer whales eating their way further into Manitoba

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The food chain in Hudson Bay is drastically changing as killer whales take advantage of less sea ice and eat their way into Manitoba, a researcher in Arctic mammal populations says. Steven Ferguson, a researcher with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the University of Manitoba, will be presenting his findings in Winnipeg this week at ArcticNet 2016, the largest single gathering of scientists focused on the rapidly changing Arctic. Source