TIME space

SpaceX Launches Satellites, Lands Rocket and Makes History

It was the company’s first flight since a mission failure six months ago

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.

Read next: Why SpaceX’s First-Stage Landing Matters

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.

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