There was a time when everyone chuckled at Elon Musk’s “ridiculous” idea to land a first-stage rocket booster upright shortly after launch so that it could be used again.
But in recent years, SpaceX — the spaceflight company that Musk founded in 2002 — has nailed the process, landing Falcon 9 boosters numerous times and with astonishing accuracy as part of its plan to create a re-usable system to dramatically cut the cost of space missions.
And it’s hard to get tired of the incredible sight of a booster the size of a 15-story building coming in to land on a droneship bobbing up and down in the ocean.
SpaceX’s latest launch — its 23rd re-supply mission to the International Space Station — took place on Sunday, August 29. On Wednesday, the company posted a tweet showing yet another impressive landing, this one featuring footage from a camera attached to the booster.
It’s a pretty remarkable sight as the booster descends through dark clouds, its thrusters firing to slow it down as it approaches the droneship for another gentle touchdown.
Landing in the dark through clouds pic.twitter.com/kRaAhgcWjf
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) September 1, 2021
The landing was also notable as it marked the first use of SpaceX’s new droneship, called A Shortfall of Gravitas.
For another unique view of a Falcon 9 booster coming in to land, check out this video.
SpaceX’s first successful landing of a Falcon 9 booster took place in 2015. It’s actually suffered relatively few mishaps during the process, with just nine out of 92 landing attempts ending in failure.
SpaceX’s engineering team is now focused on perfecting the landing of its next-generation Starship spacecraft. After several failed attempts to land it following short high-altitude test flights earlier this year, the company managed to achieve a perfect landing in May. Next, SpaceX will send Starship on its first orbital test flight, with its almighty Super Heavy rocket carrying it to space.