SpaceX has followed up its successful launch and return of a Falcon 9 rocket earlier this year, with another, though this time the booster touched down at SpaceX’s Landing Zone One, having taken off from the iconic LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center. Doubly successful, the mission’s main payload, a Dragon capsule full of supplies, was successfully put into orbit and is on its way to the ISS.
Following a nasty launch-pad explosion in September 2016, SpaceX’s 2017 was initially expected to be rather cautious, but with a successful investigation into the 2016 failure, it’s come out strong. In January it successfully launched a Falcon 9 that delivered a number of satellites into Low Earth Orbit and returned the first stage booster to the drone ship; now it seems to be on a roll.
It took less than 10 minutes for the first stage booster of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to haul its payload above the clouds, before turning around and touching back down on SpaceX’s launchpad. The second stage continued to burn for another few minutes as it took the main payload into orbit, where the Dragon capsule deployed its solar panels and began its steady journey to the ISS.
It is expected to rendezvous with the station sometime on Wednesday.
Although Space X has completed a number of drone-ship landings over the past couple of years, this is only the second time it has returned a Falcon 9 booster to a launchpad.
Along with the footage from the livestream, SpaceX also captured some beautiful drone footage of the first stage booster landing on the SpaceX launchpad. Kerbalnaut Scott Manley even made an appearance in the comments, highlighting how difficult it was to get permission to take footage like this and hoped we’d see more of it in the future.
Discuss on our Facebook page, HERE.
KitGuru Says: SpaceX continues to impress. This should take us one step closer to it launching astronauts to the ISS and then, one day, Mars and beyond.