12 tweets that best define SpaceX's awesome rocket landing
Tuesday, December 22, 2015, 11:58 AM - When SpaceX made the first ever "land landing" of their Falcon 9 rocket booster on Monday night, social media was flooded with footage of the event and with congratulations to Elon Musk and his entire team. Here's a dozen tweets that best defined this historic moment.
At 8:29 p.m. EST, Monday, December 21, 2015, commercial spaceflight company SpaceX launched one of their Falcon 9 rockets, carrying a payload of 11 communications satellites into orbit. After the first stage of the rocket separated and the second stage took over to complete the journey into space, that first stage made a flip maneuver and slow descent back to Cape Canaveral to make a picture perfect touchdown just 10 minutes later.
There and back again pic.twitter.com/Ll7wg2hL1G— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2015
Congratulations @SpaceX !!! That was a hard landing to stick. Opens a brand new door to space travel. I look forward to the details.— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) December 22, 2015
Space X landed the first stage of a rocket back on the ground! We saw the future tonight. pic.twitter.com/BacyHrr3uK— Bill Nye (@BillNye) December 22, 2015
Congrats @SpaceX on landing Falcon's suborbital booster stage. Welcome to the club!— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) December 22, 2015
The overall messages were very clear. Excitement and congratulations from all on this spectacular achievement, with some meaningful additions that pointed out the importance of this event in the grand scheme of space travel and the future.
Of particular note: Jeff Bezos' tweet welcoming Elon Musk and SpaceX to "the club."
Bezos' Blue Origin company launched their sub-orbital New Shepard rocket to roughly 100 km above the surface and then successfully landed it, back on November 23, 2015. Although the SpaceX landing is certainly also a "sub-orbital" flight - as the rocket booster did not make a full revolution around the planet - the Falcon 9 first stage reached higher and flew much faster than New Shepard, making the SpaceX landing far more challenging.
The end result of this historic landing: rather than having to build an entirely new rocket to make their next launch, SpaceX could simply give this one a "tune up" to ensure everything is working fine, refuel it, perch its payload on top and put it right back on the launch pad.
However, based on what Elon Musk said in a press call after the landing, this particular rocket will probably not be making another trip to space.
"I think we’ll probably keep this one on the ground," Musk said, according to The Verge, "just [because] it's kind of unique, it's the first one we’ve brought back."
This rocket will now go through a battery of tests, including a static fire test, to determine if it could make the trip back to space. If everything checks out, future launches by SpaceX could be the ones that kick off the reusable rocket revolution.
PS: Here's one last tweet from Monday night, just to wrap things up.
Falcon 9 standing on LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral pic.twitter.com/RZdfcH0exW— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2015