If you felt a shift in the atmosphere yesterday, that was just space travel history being made, NBD.
Late Monday, rocket and spacecraft manufacturer SpaceX successfully launched a rocket with a group of communication satellites into orbit. However, it wasn’t the launch, but rather the landing that has got people so excited.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, after the 230-foot-booster delivered the 11 communication satellites into orbit, it came back to Cape Canaveral, Florida, landing gently in the same complex it had taken off from 10 minutes after its departure. This is the first time an unmanned rocket returned to a vertical landing from its terrestrial launch point. Most large rockets end up burning up in the atmosphere or crashing into the sea upon return, rendering them unusable. SpaceX has succeeded in paving the way for “recyclable rockets,” which will drastically lower the cost of space travel, which will in turn make a lot more space travel possible, particularly to companies and researchers who currently can’t afford the ginormous price tag.
So SpaceX has basically achieved the seemingly impossible. As one employee describes it “It’s like launching a pencil over the Empire State Building, having it reverse, and then come back down and land on a shoebox on the ground in a windstorm. That’s what’s happening.”
Check out the video of the SpaceX team celebrating once they realize they’ve successfully landed the rocket. Head’s up, there’s some NSFW language, but if you’ve just done the whole pencil-Empire-State-Building-shoebox-windstorm thing, NSFW language feels pretty flipping appropriate.
(Image via Twitter)