The Falcon 9 blasted off at 8:29 p.m. on Dec. 21 from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, tasked with delivering to orbit 11 spacecraft for the satellite-communications company Orbcomm. The two-stage Falcon 9 separated, and then the rocket's first stage performed a series three "boostback burns," coming down for a pinpoint touchdown at Cape Canaveral.
Falcon 9's first stage takeoff and landing in one frame
Later SpaceX reported the 11 satellites launched aboard the Falcon 9 all deployed successfully.
Falcon 9 before the launch. Photo: Elon Musk's Twitter
After the landing success, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk is planning to switch to reusable rockets. Such technology could slash the cost of spaceflight by a factor of 100, potentially making Mars colonies economically feasible, Musk has said. NASA has already congratulated SpaceX on its successful landing.
Photo: Elon Musk's Twitter
As previously reported, Blue Origin, the company led by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, landed its New Shepard booster successfully last month, but that occurred during a suborbital test.