In a dramatic feat of engineering prowess, the private spaceflight company SpaceX successfully landed a reusable Falcon 9 rocket booster today — the second such landing for the company, and the first successful touchdown on a ship.
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) today (April 8) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It carried SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo spacecraft, which is now on its way to the International Space Station, carrying crew supplies, station hardware and science experiments. SpaceX streamed live video of the historic rocket landing during the launch, a feat that capped a smooth cargo launch for NASA
After separating from Dragon a few minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage performed several flyback engine burns, then eventually lowered itself vertically onto a SpaceX drone ship that was stationed off the Florida coast.