SpaceX’s live webcast was filled with cheers from a California hilltop, as watchers witnessed the rocket launch and the landing on the pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The company has only landed the Falcon 9 on a drone ship, but the last landing was a first attempt at delivering the rocket on the ground. And after an impressive choreography, the Falcon 9’s first stage booster hit the center of LZ-4 – SpaceX landing pad.
A few minutes before the sky show, the rocket leaped off the pad and delivered the SAOCOMM-1A (Argentina’s satellite that would observe the Earth) to space. The clear skies allowed viewers to see all the exhaust from the rocket, which showed ripples through the sky. Californians across the state saw the light show too, and with the sun already set, the light of the rocket illuminated the sky.
The Falcon 9’s second launch flew this Sunday again – after on 25 July, it first delivered 10 Iridium NEXT communications satellites into the Earth’s orbit. The booster then landed at the drone ship in the sea and had to be brought back to land. It now has performed the landing on LZ-4 after successful acrobatics.
Two Rocket Landings: One for Light and One for Heavy Payloads
Now SpaceX can choose one of the two options: either return to land or touch down at sea. The company will use the proper option according to the payload the rocket carries. Launches that include a heavier payload will need to have landing in the ocean, as it needs a lot of propellant to ascend. Light payloads (like this one that was sent into the low-Earth orbit) could end in a landing on a special land pad.
This landing was the first one to touch the solid ground in California. So far, SpaceX has had 12 ground landings at the company’s launch site – Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The successful landing from last night means SpaceX will reduce the post-launch processing times and will even be able to send the rocket back to space within 24 hours.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere