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SpaceX rocket landing - what does it mean for space travel?
OUT OF THIS WORLD | Earth, Space And The Stuff In Between - a daily journey through weather, space and science with meteorologist/science writer Scott Sutherland

12 tweets that best define SpaceX's awesome rocket landing

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

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.

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.

Sources: SpaceX | The Verge

PS: Here's one last tweet from Monday night, just to wrap things up.

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