SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Lifts Off From NASA’s Historic Launch Complex 39A And Sticks Return Landing

After a scuttled attempt on Saturday, SpaceX just successfully launched and landed the Falcon 9 at NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A. Their current mission is to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). This was SpaceX’s first Florida launch since its rocket explosion last summer.

The launch and landing were textbook perfect. The company's Dragon spacecraft was deployed from the rocket right on schedule and will arrive at the ISS on February 22nd around 9am EST. Musk excitedly posted a photo of the Falcon 9’s landing on Instagram with the caption, “Baby came back”.

nasa footage of falcon9 launch
Footage of Falcon 9 launch on February 19th, 2017; Courtesy of NASA

SpaceX halted their countdown yesterday with a mere thirteen seconds remaining. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk quickly tweeted “All systems go, except the movement trace of an upper stage engine steering hydraulic piston was slightly odd. Standing down to investigate.” He followed up with another tweet stating, “If this is the only issue, flight would be fine, but need to make sure that it isn't symptomatic of a more significant upstream root cause”.

The launch was delayed until today in order to allow time for the ISS to pass over Cape Canaveral. French astronaut Thomas Pesquet tweeted from the ISS, “"Looks like I'll have to wait one more day to get my French cheese ;)". If SpaceX’s launch had not been successful, they would have likely needed to wait until Russia’s supply ship launch this coming Wednesday.

The Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A is the same launchpad where the United States launched the moon mission over half a century ago. This was the first time SpaceX used Launch Complex 39A since leasing it from NASA in 2014. Colonel Chris Hadfield, a retired Canadian Space Agency astronaut, posted on Instagram, “Apollo 11 left Earth from this launch pad. So did I, twice. But in 3 hrs, @spacex won't just launch a rocket from there, they'll then land it. I'll be watching.”