A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Monday with a payload of communications satellites before the reusable main-stage booster turned around, soared back to Cape Canaveral and landed safely near its launch pad in a gee-whiz spaceflight feat.

It was the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral and represented a tremendous success for SpaceX. The company led by billionaire Elon Musk is striving for reusability to drive launch costs down and open up space to more people.

“It’s a revolutionary moment,” Musk later told reporters. “No one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact.”

What’s significant is that this was a useful mission, Musk noted, not merely a practice flight. “We achieved recovery of the rocket in a mission that actually deployed 11 satellites,” he said.

Monday’s deployment completed a $200 million 17-satellite network that will provide machine-to-machine messaging services on the ground — such as between retailers and shipping containers.

After separation from its upper stage, the Falcon rocket’s main stage turned around and fired a series of engine burns as the vehicle flew back to Earth, unfurled its landing legs and settled gently onto a newly revamped landing pad occupying a decommissioned missile site… see more

source: aljazeera America