Watch SpaceX’s historic 200th rocket landing in this super-sharp video (Image Credit: Space.com)
SpaceX’s stunning launch of dozens of satellites on its Transporter-8 rideshare mission on Monday (June 12) marked a significant milestone for the company’s workhorse rocket.
The Transporter-8 mission lifted off Monday afternoon from Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, carrying six dozen small satellites toward orbit. But the most interesting action may have come in the downward direction, for the Falcon 9‘s first stage returned to Earth for the 200th landing in SpaceX’s storied history.
SpaceX captured the moment on video and shared it with the rest of us, posting a 30-second clip on Twitter Monday after the launch. The video features crisp footage of the booster coming down at Vandenberg’s Landing Zone-4 (LZ-4), just downrange of the launch pad.
The video shows an airborne Falcon 9 just above LZ-4, as the rocket makes its final descent burn to slow its trajectory before landing. In the high-def footage, the four landing legs at the bottom of the booster can be seen deploying, sequentially dropping from their folded stow against the rocket’s body before the vehicle softly touches down.
Rocket launch viewing at Vandenberg is typically hit or miss, as the area’s facilities are often covered in thick fog. SpaceX’s Transporter-8 launch was fortunate enough to lift off against the backdrop of clear skies, making the Falcon 9 return footage that much better. Even the dust kicked up from the single engine used for landing wasn’t enough to fully obscure the rocket’s picture-perfect mission success.
SpaceX first pulled off a rocket landing during an orbital mission in December 2015. The vast majority of the company’s touchdowns have involved the Falcon 9, though its Falcon Heavy rocket has a number of landings to its name as well.