This is amazing. Some seeing this video have claimed it is just a rocket launch played in reverse. It is not. This is a real rocket, the Falcon 9’s first stage, doing a controlled landing back on earth.
Less than 10 minutes after liftoff today, the Falcon 9 first stage came back for another pinpoint touchdown — the second of its operational life — at Landing Zone 1, a SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX has now pulled off 20 first-stage landings during orbital flights and re-flown landed boosters on four separate occasions.
Such activities are part of SpaceX’s effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable spaceflight systems, a key priority of the company and its billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk. …
As the Falcon 9’s first stage was landing today, the rocket’s (expendable) second stage kept powering the Dragon to orbit. If everything goes according to plan, the capsule will get to the ISS on Sunday (Dec. 17), delivering about 4,800 lbs. (2,180 kilograms) of scientific hardware and other supplies to the orbiting lab.
The science gear aboard the Dragon is a diverse and interesting lot. For example, there’s a sensor designed to measure just how much solar energy hits Earth, and another one that aims to gauge the amount of space junk whizzing around the planet in the ISS’ orbit.
Also aboard the Dragon is a roughly microwave-size machine built by California-based startup Made In Space that will make exotic ZBLAN optical fiber aboard the ISS. ZBLAN has the potential to be much higher-performance than standard silica optical fiber, company representatives have said. But it’s tough to make usable ZBLAN fiber here on Earth because our planet’s gravitational pull induces crystal impurities in the stuff, they added.