Private space exploration company SpaceX, headed by Elon Musk, created history in the field Friday noon when it successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea with high winds threatening to play spoilsport. The rocket separated from the Dragon spacecraft that is carrying cargo for the International Space Station (ISS).
The landing demonstrates the ability of commercial spaceflight industry to operate reusable rockets. This is not the first time that SpaceX has tried to land a rocket on a drone ship, but this attempt was the first successful attempt. Landing rockets on a static pad on land had been previously successful.
"It's another step toward the stars. In order for us to really open up access to space we have to have full and rapid reusability," an elated Elon Musk, head of SpaceX, said at a press conference.
"What was different about this [landing] is that the rocket landed instead of putting a hole in the ship or tipping over," he joked, CNN reported.
Both Musk, and Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO who also happens to be the founder of another private space company, Blue Origin, have been trying to master the successful operation of rocket landing. The SpaceX success of landing the rocket at sea could go a long way in terms application of reusable rockets. Making use of reusable rockets saves money and time for the company.
"Reusability is important. It will take us a few years to make that efficient," Musk added.
The U.S. President, Barack Obama, congratulated Musk on the successful landing, adding that it is because of innovators like him that the U.S. leads in space exploration.
Famous Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon were happy to hear about the success and wished them on Twitter.
SpaceX's next projects include recovery of Falcon 9's payload fairing, a composite structure that protects satellites during delivery to low-Earth orbit (LEO), geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), and beyond.
Colonising Mars is Musk's ultimate goal, said the Washington Post and the company is doing everything to gain experience in this regard.
The company has bagged rewarding contracts from NASA, flying cargo to the International Space Station, and by 2017, to fly astronauts to the ISS. The U.S. has stopped manned mission since the space shuttles were retired in 2011.
Falcon 9 rocket was on a mission to deliver a cargo of 7,000 pounds with supplies and science experiments for the ISS via its Dragon spacecraft. The cargo would reach the ISS Sunday.