Yesterday, SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad 39A in Cape Canaveral, Fla., where NASA once sent astronauts to the moon for the famous Apollo missions. The launch marks SpaceX’s debut from the historic site.
According to Reuters, the pad was last used for the final space shuttle launch in 2011. In 2014, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease and has spent millions on remodeling.
“It was really awesome to see 39A roar back to life,” SpaceX program manager Jessica Jensen told reporters. “This is a huge deal for us.”
The 229-foot tall (70-meter) rocket launched a robotic Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station. After the launch, the Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth successfully, landing a few miles from the Florida launch site about 8 minutes after liftoff as planned.
“Baby came back,” Space CEO Elon Musk wrote on Instagram after the successful landing.
The historic launch comes a month after SpaceX successfully launched its first Falcon 9 rocket since its explosion in September 2016. The Falcon 9 is a family of two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicles designed and manufactured by SpaceX. The interstage, which connects the upper and lower stages for Falcon 9, is a composite structure with an aluminum honeycomb core and carbon fiber face sheets.
Down the road, SpaceX plans to reuse the rockets to slash costs and reduce pricing.