— Justin Massongill (@j00zt1n) April 8, 2016
Today, SpaceX launched a bouncy house to the International Space Station—and then successfully turned the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket around, flew it back to Earth, and parked it on a drone ship floating 185 miles (300 kilometers) off the U.S. East Coast. It’s the first time anyone has done this, and it signals a step forward in making spaceflight significantly cheaper.
After launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the SpaceX rocket boosted its payload-carrying Dragon capsule toward low Earth orbit, then turned around and headed for home about 4.5 minutes after launch. As it approached the drone ship, named “Of Course I Still Love You,” the Falcon 9 righted itself, slowed down, and landed perfectly.
“The 1st stage of the Falcon 9 just landed on our Of Course I Still Love You droneship. Dragon in good orbit,” Space X tweeted, in what must be the most understated announcement of the successful landing to cross our feed.
To space and back, in less than 9 minutes? Hello, future.
It’s the fifth time SpaceX has tried to park a rocket on a ship; in 2015, the company successfully set a rocket ...