Tuesday, December 22, 2015

SpaceX lands rocket after takeoff

Private U.S. space firm SpaceX on Monday conducted its first rocket launch since a June failure that destroyed its cargo ship bound for the International Space Station and then safely landed the rocket's first stage back at the launch site.

The California-based company's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 8:29 p.m. EST (0129 GMT Tuesday) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, delivering 11 satellites to low-Earth orbit for the U.S. satellite communications company ORBCOMM.

But more attention may be on SpaceX's first attempt to land the rocket's first stage back on Earth, although the company itself described the landing as "a secondary test objective."

A live webcast by SpaceX showed people watching the launch broke into laud cheers and applause as the white portion of the rocket touched down in the darkness 10 minutes after liftoff.

All "11 satellites deployed to target orbit and Falcon has landed back at Cape Canaveral," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted. "Welcome back, baby!"

ORBCOMM chief executive officer Marc Eisenberg called it a "bullseye" landing via Twitter.

U.S. space agency NASA retweeted a posting from SpaceX, writing: "Congratulations @SpaceX on your successful vertical landing of the first stage back on Earth!"

Previously, SpaceX has tried several times to land its rocket booster on a drone ship in the ocean, but all attempts failed. The new landing mission is actually easier than the drone ship idea.

SpaceX is focusing on cheap space travel and rocket landing is one of the company's first steps aimed at building fully reusable rockets, which will drastically reduce the cost of spaceflight. Currently, rockets are built only for one-time use.

SpaceX's new landing attempt came about one month after Blue Origin, another private U.S. space firm started by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, successfully landed its New Shepard booster back at its launch site in western Texas.

  Xinhua -china.org.cn

1 comment:

  1. US space company SpaceX has successfully landed an unmanned rocket upright - the first time such a feat has been accomplished...

    The Falcon-9 rocket booster despatched 11 communications satellites before returning to an upright position at Cape Canaveral.

    The achievement has been hailed as milestone towards reusing rockets.

    It is hoped the mission will boost moves to reduce the cost of private space operations.

    The launch of a rocket is the first by SpaceX since one exploded in June.

    On that occasion an unmanned Falcon-9 broke apart in flames minutes after lifting off from Cape Canaveral, with debris tumbling out of the sky into the Atlantic Ocean.

    The rocket, which had 18 straight successes prior to the fateful flight, was in the process of sending a cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS).

    SpaceX has a $1.6bn (£1.08bn; €1.47bn) contract with Nasa to send supplies to the ISS......BBC


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