Lifting off from Cape Canaveral at just gone midnight Sunday ET, the Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched its latest payload toward the International Space Station (ISS) before returning to Earth to nail its fifth flawless landing in eight months.
Despite a number of earlier landings culminating in a fiery mess, the determined SpaceX team marches on regardless, with every mission enabling it to further hone its reusable rocket technology.
Today’s mishap-free touchdown, this one on hard ground as opposed to a barge floating in the ocean, came eight minutes after the rocket’s launch.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 18, 2016
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said a post-landing inspection of the rocket showed that “all systems look good,” and so it’s “ready to fly again.”
Aiming to build a reliable reusable rocket system that dramatically reduces the cost of future space missions, SpaceX’s Sunday-night triumph marked its second successful landing on hard ground and comes eight months after the first. It’s also achieved three successful – and somewhat trickier – landings on a sea-based barge, the ocean landings offering a greater safety margin and more flexibility for future missions.
SpaceX’s payload-carrying Dragon capsule is scheduled to reach the space station in a couple of days’ time. A key part of its cargo is an International Docking Adapter (IDA), a 5-foot-wide Boeing-made metallic ring that’ll be fitted to the outside of the ISS to allow for the automatic docking of future visiting spacecraft.
An IDA was meant to arrive at the space station just over a year ago but was destroyed when a SpaceX rocket carrying the adapter exploded shortly after launch. This time around, however, we’re pleased to report the mission is going precisely according to plan.
Want to see the rocket come safely back to terra firma? Then jump to the 24:50 mark in the video above.
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