On August 14 (1:26am EDT), SpaceX's Falcon 9 launched JCSAT-16, a commercial communications satellite, which was delivered to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit approximately 36,000 km from Earth. The Falcon 9 first stage then also successfully landed on the company's "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship floating in the Atlantic sea.
The landing was one of the most challenging ones for SpaceX, because Falcon 9 wasn't travelling alone this time – on board it carried JCSAT-16, a Japanese communications satellite (SKY Perfect JSAT is a leading satellite operator in the Asia-Pacific region and provides high-quality satellite communications to its customers using its fleet of 16 satellites), and launched it into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). It all happened quite quickly. Only six minutes after the launch, the first stage already re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship.
Due to the fact that just getting there requires a lot of fuel during take off, it makes the landing process when going back to Earth even more difficult than it normally would be. According to SpaceX, the first-stage was expected to be ''subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging.''
The company's long-term plan is to recover their rockets intact in order re-use them to make space travel less expensive in the future - by reducing manufacturing costs of the rockets that could really happen.
While the company hasn't actually re-used any of the already landed rockets yet, the first one is expected to be (re)launched in September or October this year (no information has been given about the cargo yet), SpaceX is currently doing a pretty fantastic job with their launches and landings – out of eleven rocket landing attempts, six Falcon 9 vehicles have been recovered in the past two years with the latest achievement marking the fourth time SpaceX has successfully landed one of its first-stages at sea.
In case you missed it, you can watch the archived launch webcast below.