Sunday, August 14, 2016

SpaceX Successfully Lands Rocket For The Sixth Time

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- For the sixth time in less than a year, SpaceX successfully launched and landed a first stage Falcon 9 rocket while also sending a payload into low Earth orbit. 

Prior to Sunday's landing, SpaceX had successfully launched and landed a total of five Falcon 9 rockets - two on land and three on drone ships in the ocean.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying a JCSAT-16 communications satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40 at 1:26 a.m.  Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, August 14, 2016.

Two-and-a-half minutes later, the first and second stages separated. While the second stage continued to carry the satellite into orbit, the first stage then began its descent back through Earth's atmosphere.

Landing On Drone Ship

Ten minutes after launch, SpaceX confirmed that the first stage successfully landed on the autonomous drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of Florida.  

SpaceX noted prior to launch that a successful landing during this mission may be difficult because the satellite's Geo Stationary Transfer Orbit requires the first stage rocket to reach a significantly higher altitude than other recovered missions. That meant that Falcon 9's first stage rocket came down much faster with less fuel to slow its descent than prior landing attempts.

Last month, a first stage rocket recovered from a prior JCSAT mission was test fired by SpaceX.


JCSAT-16 is a commercial communications satellite for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, a leading satellite operator in the Asia-Pacific region that provides high-quality satellite communications to its customers. 

Photo credits: SpaceX