SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time on solid ground.
Previously all rockets landed on autonomous drone ships floating in the ocean, but for this mission, the requirement was the rocket landing on the ground at Cape Canaveral.
The rocket's payload was a Dragon capsule with 2.5 tons of gear, which included a crucial docking adaptor, supplies and equipment for other manned mission to the International Space Station.
Although getting the load on orbit was the top priority of the mission, the main attraction was the rocket’s landing. Most rockets, when they go up on orbit, get destroyed or lost, which means the company has to suffer millions of dollars of loss. However, the landings made by SpaceX rockets successfully save $60 million worth of non-exploded rocket, which can be routinely reused for other launches.
The latest launch at Caqpe Canaveral Air Force Station is the latest in a series of commercial supply missions carried out by Elon Musk’s SpaceX for NASA. The plan is to greatly reduce the costs incurred on future space-bound missions.
Once SpaceX finished the experimentation phase and starts launching these things, it will be a huge breakthrough for space travel and exploration.
The launch is notable for another reason; it’s the seventh one conducted this year, which puts it one up from the launches made in 2014 and 2015. But now, with over half a year gone, SpaceX will face some serious deadline issues if it wants to accomplish its goal of 18 launches per year.