SpaceX Falcon 9 Can Land Too

Just over a month ago, Jeff Bezos' space tourism company, Blue Origin, successfully landed the booster stage of a rocket after launch. This was a major step toward making space travel more affordable. Elon Musk's company SpaceX has just taken that advancement a step further by landing the booster stage of a Falcon 9 rocket after launching a payload into orbit.

After Blue Origin's announcement, Bezos and Musk traded tweets debating the significance of the achievement. Musk pointed out that, accomplishment or not, Blue Origin's rocket is a sub-orbital vehicle. It's cool and will take people to space, but only tourists on a short flight. SpaceX, on the other hand, is in the business of orbital spaceflight and has been resupplying the International Space Station. NASA even plans to pay SpaceX to put astronauts in orbit within the next couple years.

While Musk had a good point, his tweet was partially just bluster at the time. He's demonstrated his company's ability to land rockets vertically, but not one of their orbital Falcon 9s. Two attempts at landing Falcon 9s on a barge in the ocean failed magnificently in enormous fireballs.

Thankfully, Musk is as much visionary as CEO and took his failures in stride rather than panicking over the price of the company's stock. He regarded his failures as learning points on a path to success. As the video above shows, his latest landing vindicated him in grand fashion with a touchdown that even made the process look easy. According to Space.com, Musk reported that the booster is in great shape. Although SpaceX plans to do a test-fire of the booster, they're not planning on reusing this one. They're going to put it on display somewhere, and plan to re-launch a different booster for the first time at a future date.

Congrats to Elon Musk and everyone at SpaceX on your accomplishment. We're looking forward to watching your Falcon 9s do a lot more flying...and landing...in the future!