It’s usually a good idea to use the “buyer beware” rule when shopping for used equipment. But in the case of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 system, a “used” rocket is the main selling point for the viability of the space cargo business plan.
Yesterday, SpaceX successfully launched the SES-10 communications satellite, using a reused orbital-class Falcon 9 first stage rocket for the first time on a commercial mission. As the second stage placed the satellite in orbit, the reused first stage was successfully recovered in the Atlantic Ocean on the landing pad of the SpaceX drone ship, whimsically called “Of Course I Still Love You,” based on a series if sci-fi novels by Iain M. Banks. Previously, Falcon 9’s first stage previously launched successfully the CRS-8 mission in April 2016.
As we head into the weekend, check out the video of the mission below, showing the separation of the first and second stages, and the first stage’s powered descent to the patiently waiting “Of Course I Still Love You.” While the satellite feed cut out just as the landing was being made, it recovers in time to see the spent rocket standing proudly upright with the setting sun behind it.
Of course we still think it’s cool:
For a better idea of what yesterday’s landing really looked like, here’s a shot of the same booster landing on “Of Course I Still Love You” back in April 2016: