Welcome back Falcon 9, and “Of Course I Still Love You”!
The Drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” (named in honour of Sci-Fi author Iain M. Banks) was patiently waiting, dancing on the gentle ocean swell, for stage 1 of the Falcon 9 rocket to come back home. From 6600 km/h at an altitude of 100 km, it came back to stillness as it landed vertically, for the first time in history, on a floating barge in the middle of the Ocean, off the coast of Florida.
Watch the landing here, at 00:27:00:http://livestream.com/spacex/crs8/videos/118668484
This historical event will reduce significantly the cost of payload launch because not only can the rocket be reused but it does not have to carry extra fuel and burn it for its travel back to land (and carry/burn extra fuel to carry that extra fuel).
Instead, the drone ship goes and meets the rocket where it was going, humming “Of Course I Still Love You” on its way.
The Dragon capsule is now on its way to a Rendez-vous with the ISS; The robotic CanadArm will grab and capture the capsule in about 24 hours.
Stage 1 of Falcon 9 seems in good shape but SpaceX will have to inspect it after bringing back the drone ship to land. If the rocket did not sustain any damage, we could witness the first commercial re-launch of the same rocket during the next SpaceX launch!
Jeff Bezos’ New Shepard rocket (from his private company Blue Origin) succeeded in landing its stage 1 back on the ground, but they were test missions, not commercial launches of cargo or satellites in LEO.
SpaceX enters History by performing, for the first time, a vertical landing of a stage 1 of a rocket, after a LEO launch, in the middle of the ocean on a floating drone ship.
As you can imagine the crowd went crazy and I did too, we are witnessing amazing changes in this Space Renaissance.
Bravo SpaceX for dramatically contributing to the Space Renaissance!