SpaceX Lands the First Stage of a Rocket During an Orbital Launch

A feat that could lead to reusable rockets has been realized for the first time.


The SpaceX ORBCOMM-2 Mission successfully landed the first stage of a rocket during an orbital launch, a feat never before accomplished.

At approximately 8:39 p.m. EST, SpaceX employees screamed in delight as the first stage of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth, touching down at its target landing pad.

The mission’s main purpose was to place 11 satellites into low-Earth orbit for ORBCOMM, a Machine-to-Machine communications provider, in order to complete its 17-satellite array—satellites designed to offer integral network availability and reduce line-of-sight issues to achieve steady global signal coverage.

Shortly following the successful first stage landing, the second stage of Falcon 9 deployed all its ORBCOMM satellites without issue.

The landing of the first stage, however, may be remembered by history—as such a feat is a step on the path toward reusable rockets—which could lower the costs of space flight, and in turn make transit to Mars all that more financially possible.