Elon Musk's SpaceX Launches Satellite, Lands Rocket Back on Drone Ship in Ocean
A SpaceX rocket has launched a satellite into space before landing back on a drone ship, notching another important feat for the company founded by billionaire Elon Musk.
It's the fourth time a SpaceX rocket has landed on the drone ship, which is stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, and the sixth time one of the company's space vehicles has landed back on Earth.
The Falcon 9 rocket carried a Japanese communications satellite into space from the Florida launch site, detached its payload and then landed on the ship.
But Sunday's mission was one of the most challenging, because the Falcon 9 had to get to a so-called geostationary transfer orbit. This is an orbit around 22,000 miles above the Earth's equator and because of the distance, SpaceX said before the flight that the rocket would be "subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging."
The mission marked the third time a rocket traveling to geostationary transfer orbit had landed back on Earth.
The continued success off SpaceX's missions will give a boost to the company which is attempting to reuse rockets that have successfully landed. So far, SpaceX hasn't used any of the six rockets that have successfully landed back on Earth. But, Musk has said that company will likely attempt to reuse one of the rockets this fall.
Traditionally when a rocket went to space, there would be no attempt to salvage it. This is costly, but SpaceX's method is seen as way of significantly reducing costs, as new rockets don't need to be built for each mission.