It was one giant leap for SpaceX and its ambitious reusable rocket project Monday night when it successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket 10 minutes after it launched from Cape Canaveral.
The outstanding achievement, which followed a number of troubling setbacks for the private space company earlier in the year, is a wonderful testament to the team’s skill and expertise, as well as its determination to advance its grand project to create a reusable rocket system and dramatically cut the cost of space travel.
Some stunning footage and photos of the feat have already hit the Web – SpaceX posted a video (above) shot from a helicopter showing a close-up view of the perfect landing, while SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a stunning long-exposure shot (below) showing the Falcon 9’s round trip.
The image prompted a great response from Twitter user Tony Rice:
— Tony Rice (@rtphokie) December 22, 2015
With the the mission to deploy the communications satellites completed, and the Falcon 9 rocket back on the ground upright and intact, Musk tweeted, “Welcome back, baby!”
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
Even Jeff Bezos was impressed enough to tap out a tweet, an achievement almost as monumental as the rocket landing itself as it was only his fifth post in seven years. The Amazon boss offered SpaceX his congratulations, though his message gently reminded the company that it’s not the only member of the prestigious rocket-landing club.
That’s right, Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin team also recently succeeded in landing a rocket, though that one was less powerful and came down from a lower altitude than the Falcon 9.
Still, SpaceX’s achievement Monday night will undoubtedly serve to intensify the competition between the two companies – and the two entrepreneurs – as they work to further develop their respective systems and technology, a tantalizing prospect for space technology fans everywhere.