SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at a landing pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Monday, after launching 11 satellites into orbit.
"The Falcon has landed," a SpaceX commentator said on a live webcast, marking the first time in history a rocket delivered a payload into orbit and returned to earth with a gentle landing. Cheers of “U.S.A., U.S.A” followed the announcement.
The commercial satellites, owned by communications company Orbcomm, rode inside the nose of the towering rocket as it took off at 8:29 p.m. ET. As the second-stage booster propelled the satellites into orbit, the first stage returned to earth from an altitude of about 125 miles, touching down 10 minutes after liftoff, in one piece.
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Reusing first-stage boosters will help lower the cost of space travel and save the expense of rebuilding hardware.
This is the first flight from Elon Musk’s company since a June 28 mission failure when a rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station disintegrated just two minutes after launching.
Twitter welcomed the successful return of SpaceX.