A day after the first-ever fully successful landing of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster, space fans around the world are geeking out over the pictures. And it’s not just geeks.
Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, commander of the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, said the Florida landing “clearly placed the exclamation mark on 2015, by closing out another successful year for the Eastern Range in historic fashion.”
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket was launched on Monday night from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, successfully sending 11 communication satellites into orbit for Orbcomm.
That would have been significant enough, coming nearly six months after a Falcon launch failure forced SpaceX to hold up on its space missions. But the first-stage booster’s return to a converted missile range, now dubbed Landing Zone 1, marked the first time that a rocket returned safely to ground after launching an orbital mission.
The Blue Origin space venture demonstrated a similar rocket return during asuborbital test mission last month, but SpaceX’s feat carries even bigger implications for lowering the cost of access to orbit. Bottom line? The pace of the commercial space race is heating up – so enjoy the show on SpaceX’s Flickr site and YouTube channel,