SpaceX Takes A Step Closer To Mars. Lands Rocket Upright
A historic moment was repeated on Monday, when Elon Musk's SpaceX landed the first stage of a rocket on its launch pad in Cape Canaveral. This marks the third attempt of the company to vertically land a rocket, the first on land.
According to The Washington Post, a Falcon 9 rocket designed to deliver satellites into orbit took off from Cape at 8.29 p.m. on Monday with a payload of 11 commercial communications satellites. As the second stage of the rocket separated, the first stage, also called the booster, made its way back to the launch pad.
TIME reports that Monday's launch was the first flight for SpaceX after its rocket disintegrated just minutes after launch in June this year. It was also the second of its type of achievement in a month, following the landing of a rocket by Jeff Bezos owned Blue Origin.
Landing rockets is crucial to lower the cost of space flights as it allows reusability of the first stage, which is also most expensive stage. Up until now, the first stage of rockets disintegrated and landed into the ocean. Safely landing rockets is also expected to herald improvements in propulsion that would make humans land and take off from Mars.
Following the landing, SpaceX's engineers began removing excess fuel and oxidizers from the rocket while preparing its transport to the company's facilities. It remains to be known if the Falcon 9 is reusable after its landing.