Mental Floss

SpaceX Made History Again by Landing a Rocket on a Droneship

Kate Horowitz

Last Friday, a SpaceX rocket stuck a spectacular landing on a platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Like a pencil balancing on a flaming eraser, the rocket remained perpendicular as it touched down near dead center of its target on a droneship named Of Course I Still Love You. That's right: We’re finally starting to get good at this.

The rocket, a Falcon 9 first-stage booster, represents more than just another first for SpaceX. (In December 2015 a Falcon 9 nailed the landing on a return to Earth—the first time that's been done, too.) The vessel will be towed to Port Canaveral, Florida, where its creators intend to test it and potentially put it right back to work. Speaking to the press after the landing, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk emphasized the importance of reusability. “In order for us to really open up access to space, we've got to achieve full and rapid reusability," he said. "And being able to do that for the primary rocket booster is going to have a huge impact on cost." 

A Falcon 9 costs about $61.2 million out of the box, making reuse a green choice for more than one reason. The company hopes to get 10 to 20 launches out of each rocket, although, Musk added, with "minor refurbishment you could get to 100."

Musk described the exhilarating success as "another step toward the stars." It was surely also a welcome development after several failed missions in the last few years, including this explosive tip over in January when a Falcon 9 attempted to land on a droneship called Just Read the Instructions.   

Elon Musk’s mother, legendary model Maye Musk, took to Instagram to beam about her son’s success.

[h/t The Los Angeles Times]

Header image from YouTube // SpaceX