SpaceX successfully lands Falcon 9 rocket's reusable main booster
Achievement will dramatically lower costs of spaceflight
Elon Musk's SpaceX yesterday launched a Falcon 9 rocket before successfully landing the reusable main booster at its launchpad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
This is the first time that a reusable booster rocket has landed back at its base, and could deliver significant savings for launching people or objects into space. The first-stage rocket (which until now has never been reusable) currently makes up around 70% of the cost of launching something into space.
"Welcome back, baby!" Musk tweeted after the rocket had landed safely.
Yesterday's launch saw the rocket carry 11 communications satellites into the atmosphere, before it turned around and flew back to its base, landing upright on the launchpad. It was SpaceX's first launch since the summer, when a system failure ended up in a rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) exploded shortly after launch.
Yesterday's success is being held as a coup for the private space launch industry, which has become increasingly competitive over the past few years. SpaceX currently has a $1.6bn contract with NASA that will see it send supplies to the ISS.
Musk set up SpaceX in 2002 in an effort to bring private space flight into the mainstream. He also serves as the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla Motors.