Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX made history on Friday finally landing its reusable Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral at 4:43 p.m. EDT today carrying SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, now on its way to the International Space Station. After propelling the Dragon spacecraft into orbit, the Falcon 9 descended back earth, eventually slowing itself and landing vertically atop the drone ship.
Here’s a video of the successful landing:
Friday’s landing marks the first time SpaceX was able to prove its concept that it can land a reusable rocket both on land and at sea. In SpaceX’s four previous attempts, the rocket was able to find the drone ship but each time it failed to stick the landing.
“Congrats SpaceX on landing a rocket at sea. It’s because of innovators like you & NASA that America continues to lead in space exploration,” President Obama tweeted shortly after the successful landing.
The video below explains the accomplishment, its significance, and why SpaceX is using a drone ship to catch the rocket: