The Strategist

Elon Musk's Falcon 9 Went Down in History

12/22/2015 - 12:09

American Falcon 9 rocket has successfully completed its hour-long mission to take off and launch into the low orbit several satellites, and returned to Earth. This is the first vertical landing in the history, which complements list of records of Elon Musk’s company SpaceX.

US private aerospace company SpaceX conducted the first successful horizontal landing of the first stage of its rocket at Cape Canaveral. The whole operation took about an hour. It was reported that for security reasons, only the company’s key specialists and the US Air Force attended the launch site. Reporters watched the launch from the distantly located city of Port Canaveral.

Formally, return of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket was quite a secondary task for the company. Falcon 9’s main purpose was to boost multiple communication satellites into low orbit. Nevertheless, mostly the stir was caused by the first rocket stage returned to Earth. SpaceX, the company belonging to Elon Musk, intends to use the technology to return the first stages of its missiles to their further use, and hence reduce the cost of launch. So far, such attempts have been largely unsuccessful. Before, first stages successfully splashed down into the ocean. Yet, attempts to land the missile onto an ocean platform or barge failed. Previously, SpaceX has already considered the option of a hard landing on Earth, though Monday's was the first attempt.  

In November, another private company, Blue Origin of Jeff Bezos (better known as owner of and The Washington Post), caused quite a stir around its suborbital rocket flight. In his congratulatory tweet to SpaceX, Mr. Bezos tried to downplay the significance of what happened and to remind the world about who is a pioneer: "Congrats @SpaceX on landing Falcon's suborbital booster stage. Welcome to the club!" However, experts say, it is useful to remember that Falcon 9’s first stage belongs to the full orbital rocket, and is many times heavier than that of Blue Origin.

SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Company) was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Stated objective - cheaper space missions and organization of a flight to Mars. Among the previous achievements of the company is launch of Falcon 1, the first private rocket using liquid fuel (2008), the private aircraft Dragon launched and returned to Earth of in 2010. Moreover, SpaceX became the first private company that sent an aircraft (the same Dragon) to the ISS in 2012.