The spectacular new SpaceX video, which the company released today (July 22), reveals the rocket stage returning to Earth in a controlled fashion after helping launch six commercial satellites from Florida on July 14. Many key moments are plainly visible, including the deployment of the stage's landing legs and its submersion in the Atlantic Ocean.
"This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity, " SpaceX representatives wrote in an update today about the video, which was recorded by the stage's onboard camera.
A stilll from a video shows a Falcon 9 rocket first stage soft landing in the Atlantic Ocean on July 14, 2014.
Credit: SpaceX (via YouTube as SpaceX)
Developing fully and rapidly reusable rockets is a key priority for California-based SpaceX and Elon Musk, the company's billionaire founder and CEO. Musk has said reusable launch systems could slash the cost of spaceflight by a factor of 100, potentially making Mars colonies and other lofty goals economically feasible.
The company has therefore put a lot of time and effort into testing reusable rockets. Over the past few years, for example, SpaceX conducted increasingly complicated flights of its prototype Grasshopper rocket from a facility in Texas. And the company has now attempted three first-stage returns during Falcon 9 launches.
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