SpaceX, likely the biggest name in the growing private space travel industry, successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a Robotic Dragon cargo capsule from the storied Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center – the very same platform used to send astronauts to the moon during the Apollo missions, and later the host to multiple space shuttle mission launches.
“Liftoff of the Falcon 9 to the space station on the first commercial launch from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Pad 39A!” said NASA commentator George Diller as the 230 foot tall, dual stage rocket took to the sky.
Sunday’s events marked the second successful launch for SpaceX since a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad on September 1st of last year. The rocket was destroyed during routine pre-launch checks and with it went a $200 million Amos-6 satellite.
The Falcon 9 is a dual stage rocket, but unlike previous rocket designs, the first stage booster actually returns to Earth after separating. This drastically reduces launch expense when compared to the traditional method of expelling spent boosters and allowing them to fall into the ocean, with SpaceX’s boosters landing vertically on drone ships in the ocean, or as in this most recent case, a landing site a few miles away from the Launchpad.