CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - SpaceX lit up the midnight sky twice tonight... Successfully launching a Dragon spacecraft, as well as retrieving their booster rocket.
The 220 foot tall SpaceX Falcon9 rocket powered off the pad at launch complex 40... Right as soon as the instantaneous window opened up at 12:45 this morning. For those who were up watching all over central Florida, it was easy to see as those 9 Merlin D engines bright burning against the night sky.
After the rocket inserted the Dragon spacecraft on an orbit to dock with the International Space Station 250 miles above the earth, we saw it relight its engines and seemingly float upright back down to the earth. We lost it on the horizon but SpaceX's cameras captured the action. They reported the booster successfully landed... The second time they've done this on land, and five at sea.
So now Ken Kremer from Universe Today, who covers launches at the cape, says SpaceX has another big hurdle ahead, "So they've recovered the rockets, they've proven they can do that, but they haven't proven they can re-use them. The more rockets we get back we can re-use them...they've only got one back they can really reuse, the others were hard landings so they cannot be reused, however there's a lot of science because I asked Hans at the briefing that they learn from that."
SpaceX saying they plan on launching one of their reused rocket this fall. Next launch is ULA with an Atlas V rocket on July 28th.