An artist’s rendering of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a SpaceX space suit. Photo Credit: Lewis3222

One Small Step For @ElonMusk. A Giant Leap for Making Life Multi-Planetary. #SpaceX

Yesterday, seconds after striking the snooze button, I opened up the Twitter on my phone to find a barrage of tweets about #SpaceX and rockets. Half way around the world at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was set to launch their next mission. Technically speaking, the primary mission was for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to deliver 11 satellites to low-Earth orbit for a company called ORBCOMM. ORBCOMM is the leading global provider of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication and Internet of Things (IoT) solution. As futuristic as that is, it’s not what had the internet all riled up today.

The secondary mission was to try to bring the Falcon 9 Stage 1 Rocket back down to earth in one piece in a SciFi-esque vertical landing. So 10 minutes after lift-off, with a bright orange ball of fire that lit up the night sky in Florida, it was coming home. With tens of thousands of people watching the live video around the world, SpaceX successfully brought the Falcon 9 Rocket back home. I wonder if they’ll rename the Falcon 9 the Boomerang now. No, not really. But seriously, this was SpaceX’s third attempt at safely landing the rocket after launch, although the first attempt on land, rather than on a barge at sea.

The Launch to Landing sequence

The Experimental Landing Procedure. Look at That Flip Maneuver. Source: SpaceX

Falcon 9 Stage 1 Landing Successfully at LZ-1

It’s just like watching a rocket launch backwards…. Source: SpaceX.

Remember, back in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and co landed on the moon with the Apollo 11, and he proclaimed, “One small step for man! A giant leap for mankind!”? SpaceX’s accomplishment yesterday with the successful test of reusable rocket technology is critical if we’re ever going to make a sustainable (economical) way for humans to travel to Mars. Someday in the 2020s, we’ll be watching the launch of the first manned mission to Mars on our Virtual Reality glasses, and as the Stage 1 rockets land back on earth just minutes after launch, while the rest of the vehicle is zooming towards Mars, I hope we remember this moment when Elon Musk and SpaceX did the “impossible.”

“Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt the ones doing it.” Chinese Proverb

Why is this such a big deal?

Good luck. I’m glad you asked. Imagine if you had to buy a new car every time you ran out of gas. Imagine you had to spend half a billion dollars on every commercial flight, because you could only fly a plane once, then build another one for the return flight. That would be ridiculous. Obviously, we don’t need to build a new airplane for every flight, but currently we do need to build a new rocket from scratch for every single mission.

Yesterday’s successful SpaceX landing brings us a lot closer to the dream of building reusable rockets. Elon Musk has said that it costs $16 million to manufacture the Falcon 9 rocket, but only $200,000 to fuel it. Imagine the impact of SpaceX’s tireless research and development to space travel and space exploration when we can reuse the expensive rockets over and over and over again. The implications are staggering.

Entrepreneur, Author, Investor and Innovator, Peter Diamandis tweeted:

This is a giant leap forward in making human life multi-planetary and has taken the SpaceX team many years. Let’s go back to 2011 (almost exactly 4 years ago to the day) to a Q&A session with Tony Stark, I mean, Elon Musk himself at The National Press Club.

Why Invest In Making Life Multi-Planetary?

Why Make Rockets Reusable?

Why Is Making A Reusable Rocket So Difficult?

If you want to watch the full 45 minute live-stream of SpaceX’s mission, you can click here or watch it below. It’s more interesting and engaging than you’d expect. The SpaceX communications team did a fantastic job.

One SpaceX employee’s disbelief was heard over the applause and cheers: “Holy sh*t. We did it! Unbelievable.”

One more thing…

You can follow SpaceX on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flickr.

P.S. Hey Jeff Bezos, I’m happy for what you’re up to with Blue Origin, but Elon Musk and SpaceX have the greatest private space company of all time OF ALL TIME. But let us know when you deploy a life size reusable rocket, we’d be happy to “welcome you to the club.”

If you enjoyed reading this story, you can find me on Twitter and say hi at @amrit_sharma.

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