SpaceX made history tonight, becoming the first company to land a rocket after launching a payload to space. The live-streamed event coverage — arresting as it was — also was at a distance, and looked a little crude. Now SpaceX has released new footage shot from a helicopter that was hovering near the landing zone, and it offers a fantastic view of the 14-story-tall rocket stage hitting its mark after returning from space.
The first stage, which houses most of the fuel and all nine of the rocket's eponymous engines, was traveling at a speed of nearly 3,000 miles per hour (5,000 kilometers per hour) when it separated from the second stage. Some of those same engines performed a reentry burn to slow the rocket down, before lighting up again when the rocket touched down on the beaches of Cape Canaveral.
This particular rocket is just a step on the path to reusability, though. Elon Musk said shortly after the launch that though the company will test it, this rocket will be stored away somewhere safe. Now that SpaceX has launched and landed a rocket, Musk says the company is planning to launch a rocket, land it, and launch it again "sometime next year."
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