SpaceX launches satellite, then lands rocket

Image: SpaceX rocket landing
A webcast view shows SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on the oceangoing drone ship known as “Of Course I Still Love You.” (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched a satellite for a Japanese communication company tonight, and then made a bull’s-eye landing on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean.

The two-stage Falcon 9 carried the JCSAT-16 satellite into the night sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:26 a.m. ET Sunday (10:26 p.m. PT Saturday).

After stage separation, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster relit its engines and went through a series of maneuvers to land on an oceangoing platform christened “Of Course I Still Love You.”

SpaceX’s webcast missed the precise moment of touchdown but showed the booster standing upright on the deck of the drone ship moments afterward – almost exactly on top of the stylized “X” that served as a target.

A little more than a half-hour after launch, SpaceX announced that JCSAT-16 had been deployed into its intended geostationary transfer orbit, reaching a high point of 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers).

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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