SpaceX, your Falcon 9 rocket has landed, and oh, what a sight it was.
In a history-making launch late Monday (Dec. 21), the private spaceflight company SpaceX blasted one of its two-stage Falcon 9 rockets into space, then returned the first stage of the rocket back to Earth in a stunning nighttime landing. (The upper stage, meanwhile, delivered 11 satellites to orbit for SpaceX customer Orbcomm.) The feat was so awesome we made a greatest hits video of the SpaceX rocket landing here, but SpaceX itself captured the view with some amazing images.
In fact, the rocket's return even surprised SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, who initially thought the Falcon 9 booster didn't actually stick its landing.
"I ran out on the causeway just to watch the landing, and the sonic boom reached me just as the rocket touched down, so I thought at first the rocket exploded," Musk told reporters in a teleconference after the landing. "Then I went back into launch control and saw this amazing video of the rocket on the pad … I can't quite believe it." [...]
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