On Monday morning, SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on solid ground again after launching it from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The aerospace manufacturer headed by Elon Musk recovered its Falcon 9 first stage after successfull launching the NROL-76 for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Organization.
Falcon 9 broadcast was a bit different this time
TechCrunch notes that the company’s recovery attempt saw the first stage fall back to the ground under a controlled descent after separating from the second stage and mission payload a few minutes after launch. The first stage of the vehicle touched down at Landing Zone 1 located just off the coast of the Cape. The first stage of the rocket is a 14-story core which contains the main engines.
The rocket, which took off at 7:15 s.m. Eastern, is the first mission the aerospace manufacturer has done for the U.S. military after receiving certification to launch satellites for the U.S. Air Force in 2015. There is not much information about the purpose of the mission or the intended orbit of the satellite since this was a national security launch.
In addition, the live broadcast of the rocket launch was a little different than those of SpaceX’s commercial missions. The live broadcast showed viewers only shots of the initial descent and did not reveal many views of the rocket as it ventured deeper into space. Those who viewed the launch were, instead, treated to multiple views of the Falcon 9 first stage as it made its descent to Earth again, notes The Verge.
There was a nearly continuous shot of the falling rocket taken from the ground, an angle that The Verge described as “never quite seen captured in the online broadcast before.”
SpaceX is ready to reuse rockets
SpaceX’s successful mission comes only a day after the original attempt was canceled. The launch window was slated to open Sunday morning at 7:15 a.m., but the launch conductor called a hold on the mission only 52 seconds before it opened due to a sensor problem.
This is the fourth time that SpaceX has landed one of its rockets successfully on land and the eleventh time the company has recovered a rocket post-launch successfully. The Hawthorne-based company has done four recoveries at LZ-1 now, with the first being about 18 months ago. The land-based recovery is one of the two ways SpaceX gets its Falcon 9 first stages back to use them again. The other way is ocean-based drone barges that can re-position themselves autonomously to better suit the entry angle of the returning craft, notes TechCrunch.
SpaceX used a new Falcon 9 rocket for the launch, but previously, it has demonstrated that it can reuse rockets that have flown to space before. It is not known when SpaceX will fly its next used Falcon 9, but there are good chances that we will see previously flown first stages being used in both commercial launches and military missions at some point.