Last month SpaceX founder Elon Musk celebrated the realization of a goal 15 years in the making when one of the company’s Falcon 9 orbital rockets touched down on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean — for the second time.
On Wednesday, SpaceX took to Instagram to share multiple views of the historic landing of the first rocket to ever be recovered and relaunched on two separate orbital missions. The footage is enough to blow you away.
I mean, imagine actually being there. It’s clear that this landing pad is unmanned for a reason: There’s a lot of fire and force swirling around on that drone ship, judging by all the debris that gets blasted by the cameras on deck.
But perhaps the most powerful part of these images is the way they broaden our visions of our future in space. The mission of Musk and SpaceX is all about making getting to space more affordable and thereby more accessible. This is the short-term step needed to achieve the distant goal of making humans “multiplanetary,” as Musk told us last year when he unveiled his grandiose scheme to build a million-person colony on Mars.
Even if that Martian mark proves a little tough to hit, there are numerous other benefits to making space more accessible, from advancing science and communication to things we haven’t even thought of yet.
And the early indications are that SpaceX’s recycled rocket has brought us closer to figuring out the new economics of space.
Speaking at a conference in Colorado on Wednesday, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the cost of reusing the above Falcon 9 “was substantially less than half ” the cost of a new one.
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