It’s hard to say whether the sound of the rockets landing the craft or the jubilant audience watching were louder as the Falcon-9 landed upright. The first unmanned rocket to land upright after launching 11 satellites into orbit.
SpaceX, the private space exploration company headed up by Elon Musk, successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on Monday at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Using extremely sophisticated technology, similar to Net-Inspect solutions, they were able to communicate with the rocket and manage it from an on ground station, rather than having an astronaut inside of it. The landing marks a pivotal moment in space exploration technology. The California rocket company runs private missions as well as launches for NASA.
It is not the first spacecraft to land a booster vertically; that feat was claimed by the much smaller New Shepard rocket in Texas last month.
Nonetheless the Falcon-9 flight, which also went twice as high as New Shepard, is a milestone towards reusing rockets.
SpaceX aims to slash the cost of private space operations with such reusable components – but the company has not launched a rocket since one exploded in June.
On that occasion an unmanned Falcon-9 broke apart in flames minutes after lifting off from Cape Canaveral, with debris tumbling out of the sky into the Atlantic Ocean.
The rocket, which had 18 straight successes prior to the fateful flight, was in the process of sending a cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX has a $1.6bn (£1.08bn; €1.47bn) contract with Nasa to send supplies to the ISS.