SpaceX has done it again. Earlier this morning the company achieved a successful launch and landing of its Falcon 9 main stage booster. This is the second time SpaceX has landed its rocket on land and the the fifth booster the company has [successfully] returned from space.
The Dragon capsule that sat on top of the Falcon 9 safely made it into Earth orbit at around 1AM ET. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will use the International Space Station's robotic arm to capture the spacecraft on Wednesday morning. You can check out the launch and landing in the below video (landing happens around the 25 minute mark).
The Dragon capsule is loaded with 5,000 lbs. of supplies for the ISS and its crew. The capsule also possesses an external international docking adaptor or IDA. The IDA allows different national hardware to interact with the ISS system. According to NASA, “the adapter is built so spacecraft systems can automatically perform all the steps of rendezvous and dock with the station without input from the astronauts”.
This is the second IDA sent to ISS -- the first was lost after having exploded in one of SpaceX’s rare failed launches.
SpaceX has yet to reuse one of its boosters on a followup mission, however, it does plan to do so in the near future. SpaceX has selected core F9-023 for the first re-flight. This booster was first launched for the Dragon CRS-8 mission in April.
The last SpaceX mission was less successful. SpaceX was able to put the EUTELSAT 117 West B and ABS-2A satellites into a geostationary transfer orbit, however, the landing was a complete loss. While the Falcon 9 definitely approached the drone ship right on target, it hit the drone ship at a high rate of speed.
The next SpaceX launch will occur on August 22nd.