Friday 20 January 2017

'Welcome back, baby' - revolutionary moment for SpaceX

Rachael Alexander in Florida

Published 23/12/2015 | 02:30

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch appears in the distance along the Indian River, south of Rockledge in Florida. Photo: Tim Shortt/AP
The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch appears in the distance along the Indian River, south of Rockledge in Florida. Photo: Tim Shortt/AP
A remodeled version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the launcherÄôs first mission since a June failure in Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 21, 2015
A remodeled version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the launcherÄôs first mission since a June failure in Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 21, 2015
A remodeled version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the launcherÄôs first mission since a June failure in Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 21, 2015
A remodeled version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the launcherÄôs first mission since a June failure in Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 21, 2015
A remodeled version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the launcherÄôs first mission since a June failure in Cape Canaveral, Florida, December 21, 2015

SpaceX sent a Falcon rocket soaring toward orbit with 11 small satellites, its first mission since an accident last summer. Then, in an even more astounding feat, it landed the 15-story leftover booster back on Earth safely.

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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 re-usability to drive launch costs down and open up space to more people. "Welcome back, baby!" Musk tweeted after touchdown. "It's a revolutionary moment," Musk later told reporters.

"No one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact."

What's significant is that this was a useful mission, Musk noted, not merely a practice flight. "I can't quite believe it," he said. "It's quite shocking."

Musk said the company "could not have asked for a better mission or a better day."

Irish Independent

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