SpaceX lands Falcon 9 rocket after launching Japanese satellite

August 14, 2016
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits on a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida

SpaceX successfully landed a reusable Falcon 9 rocket on a floating drone ship at sea early Sunday after the vehicle had sent a Japanese communications satellite into orbit.

The California-based company's eighth launch this year was part of its ongoing effort to re-use costly rocket parts instead of jettisoning them into the ocean.

It was also the fourth time SpaceX has vertically landed a used Falcon 9 rocket aboard a floating platform at sea.

The white rocket launched under a dark night sky from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:26 am (0526 GMT).

Less than three minutes into the flight, the rocket's main stage separated as planned, with SpaceX mission control erupting in cheers as live video showed the moves.

Around six minutes later, the first stage landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship, drawing more cheers at mission control.

The vertical landing on the reconverted deck barge in the Atlantic Ocean was especially challenging because the JCSAT-16 had to be carried into a highly elliptical orbit some 22,300 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the Earth's equator.

"The first stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging," Space Exploration Technologies Corporation—SpaceX's full name—said prior to the mission.

The communications satellite will help provide more stable satellite services for video distribution and data transfer communications in Asia, Russia, Oceania, Middle East and North America.

It was the second JCSAT satellite SpaceX has launched in four months for satellite operator SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk wants to revolutionize the launch industry by making components reusable.

Explore further: SpaceX to launch Japanese satellite early Friday

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5 / 5 (15) Aug 14, 2016
It's successful when it gets routine. Good work.
5 / 5 (10) Aug 14, 2016
It will be interesting to see how well the engines withstood the re-entry process.
Doctor D
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2016
Wonder whether some of the recovered cores will be used for a Falcon Heavy boilerplate launch...
5 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2016
Here's a link to the webcast of the launch and deployment –
The video feed for the first stage landing cut out briefly, but it sure landed right on the mark. Well done.
3 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2016
I am still astonished this is possible and they are doing it.
1.9 / 5 (14) Aug 14, 2016
I am still astonished this is possible and they are doing it.

You bet geek, here they are, more efficiently than ever before, polluting the solar system & you're not all up in arms about it? Or is it that you've yet to come back down to earth over being so "astonished"? I guess after you have a couple days of astonishment recovery, you'll be back to normal.
3.7 / 5 (13) Aug 14, 2016
I am still astonished this is possible and they are doing it.

They've been doing soft landings for decades now. See List of landings...

Most impressive one (to me) was when Neil Armstrong did it in 1969, semi-manually, without the benefit of aerodynamic drag and a streamlined airframe, when he landed the Eagle in the Sea of Tranquility.

Most impressive floating lander (to me) was the Huygens probe, all the way to Titan.

Most impressively sophisticated landing (to me) was when the Mars Science Laboratory delivered Curiosity.
4.5 / 5 (8) Aug 14, 2016
Late edit,

It should be possible to prove which landing was the most impressively softest soft landing (depending on available data) – guessing it's a toss-up between Hayabusa (on asteroid Itokawa) and Philae (on comet 67P)...
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 15, 2016
Too bad Philae was let down by crummy solar cell power. Should have had plutonium. Also, good thing for Space-X, the U.S. needs something now that the Chicago street organizer destroyed the manned U.S. space program.
2 / 5 (4) Aug 15, 2016
Should have had plutonium.

The waste heat and radiation from the RTG would have messed up the science measurements.
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 15, 2016
... now that the Chicago street organizer destroyed the manned U.S. space program.

Nasa spending was already declining way before Obama:
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 15, 2016
The waste heat and radiation from the RTG would have messed up the science measurements
Tsk Tsk you're guessing again.

"The RTG technology, however, is not available outside Russia and the United States. That is primarily due to safety concerns around the technology. Plutonium-238 is highly toxic (can causes cancer and radiation sickness on exposure), so due to this other countries have not developed the technology. Also, there is shortage of Plutonium-238. The United States can only produce ~1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) per year."

-Scientists do due diligence did you know it?
5 / 5 (5) Aug 15, 2016
We may have soft landed a lot of probes/craft in the past on other bodies, but there's something about these SpaceX 1st stage landings that floors me (been watching since Apollo program) ..everytime.

Softly landing a 120 tall metal "tube", smack dab in the middle of a tiny target (150 by 150 feet maybe?)! Freaking great.

Good stuff. Gives me hope for the future of space exploration. Yay!

Aug 16, 2016
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