SpaceX successfully launches (and lands) Falcon 9 rocket
Elon Musk’s company SpaceX made history last night as its unmanned, Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Why did it make history, you ask? Because after more than a year of trying , it was the first time the US company was able to land one of its rockets upright, taking a big step towards the viability of renewable rockets.
The event was a huge success for the company founded by the co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors, especially after it saw a previous Falcon 9 rocket explode a few minutes into its flight to the International Space Station back in June.
The successful mission, which saw the rocket carrying a payload of 11 satellites before landing successfully in one piece, is being heralded as a major step for space transport and could revolutionise the entire private sector.
As things are, conventional rockets are discarded following each launch, a process that is vastly expensive. By proving that it is possible to reuse rockets, access to space will could significantly cheaper, saving private companies millions of dollars per trip. SpaceX CEO Musk noted that it costs $16 million to manufacture the Falcon 9, but only $200,000 to fuel the rocket. Removing this enormous expense would drastically bring down launch costs, making it a more financially viable opportunity for companies.
At mission control of last night’s event, SpaceX employees broke out in celebration as they watched a live stream of the 47m-tall rocket slowly descend to earth in the form of a glowing orange ball. It is not the first spacecraft to land a booster vertically; that feat was claimed by the much smaller New Shepard rocket in November 2015, but the Falcon 9 reach levels of 200km above the earth, twice that of New Shepard.