Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), a company founded by high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, has successfully landed an unmanned rocket upright, after sending 11 satellites into orbit.
The Falcon-9 craft touched down late on Monday night, about 10 kilometers from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, BBC reported.
It marks a milestone in the company’s efforts to slash the cost of private space operations with reusable components.
The Wall Street Journal noted that the gentle landing marked the first time any large rocket has managed a controlled recovery after delivering a payload into orbit.
Rather than fall into the sea, or burn up in the atmosphere as typically happens with all big rockets, the Falcon-9 craft landed on deployable legs on a converted launch facility.
SpaceX engineers erupted into loud screams inside the control room after the landing.
Musk described the event as a “revolutionary moment” for the space industry.
SpaceX has a US$1.6 billion contract with NASA to send supplies to the International Space Station.
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