Launching rockets and landing them is something that Elon Musk's SpaceX has been doing really well all through this year. This included the incredible side-by-side landing of two rockets that flew with the Falcon Heavy in February, when its launches have been perfectly timed and carried out in a favourable weather, but this week's launch was not that lucky.
This is Falcon 9's 60th mission.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket carrying the Canadian satellite Telstar 18 Vantage happened during and in spite of what is being described as "worrying weather". In fact the original launch was actually delayed and put off till the passing rain and heavy cloud cover cleared out.
In just eight minutes after launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket broke off from the upper stage after delivering them in space and returned for a landing at sea. The rocket made a smooth landing on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" (OCISLY) which was waiting at the Atlantic Ocean.
The video feed, however, was cut off as always just before the rocket landed. While there are many looming theories as to why the feed cuts off just before the landing, the actual reason was explained in an episode of Primal Space. OCISLY feeds live video through a directional transmitter directly to a satellite. Whenever the massive rocket comes thundering down, high frequency vibrations interrupt the signal. The feed is still captured by the cameras and the company usually uploads all their landings a few days later, so just for a few seconds, just before touchdown, the feed gets temporarily cut off.
Monday's launch saw the upper stage deliver the payload and fall back into Earth in about 30 minutes after launch.
The Telstar 18 Vantage weighed in at about 7,060 kg, reports Mashable, this is just shy of the Telstar 19V, launched in July this year. It was, at the time, the heaviest communications satellite ever taken to orbit by SpaceX.
Falcon 9 has now reached its Block 5 stage, which according to Musk should make 100 flights before it is retired and at least 10 flights before it is in need of any major refurbishment. It is not clear at this time if the company considered capturing the fairings using either Mr. Steven or parachutes. The next Falcon 9 launch has been scheduled on October 7.
SpaceX has at least 8 more launches scheduled for this year and it includes two Falcon Heavy launches, according to SpaceFlightNow.