In the famous words of William Edward Hickson: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again." SpaceX tried, tried, tried again - and made it!
On Friday afternoon, SpaceX successfully landed 1st stage of its Falcon 9 rocket upon a drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" for the first time.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launched the CRS-8 Dragon spacecraft to low Earth orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 4:43 p.m. It was to deliver critical cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. According to SpaceX press release, the Dragon spacecraft was filled with about 7,000 pounds of critical supplies and payloads for the space station crew, including materials to support dozens of the approximately 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 47 and 48. Dragon was set to return to Earth after just over a month stay at the ISS.
After four previous attempts failed, this was the first time SpaceX (gloriously) pulled off an ocean landing, proving that the company can indeed land its rockets on solid ground as well as ocean."What was different about this (landing) is that the rocket landed instead of putting a hole in the ship or tipping over," Elon Musk, head of private space exploration company SpaceX, joked.
SpaceX is landing these rockets in order to help company save money on launch costs, as many rockets today are either destroyed or lost after they launch into space. SpaceX hopes they will be able to recover launched rockets, so they won't need to build new ones (Falcon 9 cost $60 million to make) for each mission. Re-using existing ones would mean their largest expense would be covering the cost of fuel (only $200,000).
SpaceX CRS-8 is the eighth of up to 20 missions to the International Space Station that SpaceX will fly for NASA under the CRS contract.