SpaceX made history last week when it returned the first ever reused orbital booster to Earth. Now, they’ve released some glorious footage of the event.
Posted on their Instagram account, the short video shows the first stage of the Falcon 9 touching down on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You on March 30. It uses its main engine to slow down, before the four legs stabilize the rocket (with rather unnerving bendiness to absorb the shock of landing).
The launch took the SES-10 telecoms satellite to orbit for Luxembourg company SES. It was SpaceX’s fourth flight and third landing of the year. They have had nine landings overall now since December 2015.
This latest booster has now returned to Port Canaveral in Florida, with CEO Elon Musk saying it would be put on display somewhere at Cape Canaveral. The first rocket SpaceX ever landed is also on display, at their headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Musk and SpaceX have been getting plaudits from around the world for the achievement, but an unlikely commendation came from Russia. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has previously gone on record as saying they weren’t interested in reusable rockets.
Now, however, Rocosmos CEO Igor Komarov has come out in favor of the technology. “This is a very important step, we sincerely congratulate our colleague on this achievement,” he said after SpaceX landed their rocket.
"The innovations SpaceX is making are forcing us to work on lowering the cost price and raising the product quality," he added. He also said that Roscosmos was now running “pilot projects” to look into building their own reusable rockets.
This highlights the effect Musk has had on the industry, which is quite amusing considering Musk was once spat on by a Russian rocket designer in 2001 for being "full of shit". Other established companies, like the United Launch Alliance (ULA), are scrambling to keep up with SpaceX and ensure they can offer competitive launch prices. ULA is now developing its own reusable rockets, which will return by parachute.
SpaceX's reusable rockets may eventually reduce the cost of going to space by a factor of 100. Musk's goal is to launch, land, and launch again within 24 hours. That should make for a pretty good Instagram video.