SpaceX has done it again. It has landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a floating drone ship at sea, for the second time in less than one month.
This time, the booster rocket softly touched the deck of the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship at 1:30 a.m. EDT on Friday just nine minutes after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
It was a successful mission that carried a Japanese communications satellite JCSAT-14 into orbit.
Jubilant employees chanted "USA! USA! USA!" at the Hawthorne, California headquarters of the commercial space company as the Falcon 9 touch landed on the ship. It was stationed about 200 miles off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX can't help but join in the jubilation by tweeting "Woohoo!"
This is the second time the commercial space company has successfully recovered a rocket at sea and the third rocket landing overall. Even people who watched the launch and recovery at home were elated by what they saw.
The reason for its public popularity is the company's openness in sharing its many dazzling photos and videos of its space activities. Inevitably, the public gets to see not just its successful launches and landings but one of its failures as well when a rocket exploded as it tried to land on a barge at sea.
SpaceX was not really expecting a successful landing on Friday due to the two-stage Falcon 9 sending JCSAT-14 to a much farther distant geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
"Given this mission's GTO destination, the first stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely," said the company in written information about the JCSAT-14 mission.
To date, SpaceX now has three Falcon 9 first stages that safely returned to earth.
"May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar," tweeted Musk on Friday.