SpaceX has successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time ever.
Late last year, SpaceX successfully landed its reusable rocket on land at Cape Canaveral. Each of the company’s four previous attempts to land on a floating barge, however, have resulted in catastrophic failure. A resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) last June also ended poorly as the rocket exploded over the Atlantic a little over two minutes into the mission.
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The rocket approached the autonomous spaceport drone ship, cleverly named “Of Course I Still Love You,” decelerated at the proper rate and nailed the landing. A livestream from SpaceX headquarters documented the event as it unfolded with a live shot of the drone ship for all to see. As you can imagine, the staff went absolutely nuts.
What's ironic here is the fact that the relanding isn't even the primary objective of the mission. The CRS-8 Dragon Resupply Mission is tasked with sending the Dragon spacecraft to low Earth orbit to deliver critical cargo to the ISS. As of writing, the mission is still ongoing as the ship works to chase down and attach to the ISS, something SpaceX says will take place in about two days.