SpaceX has landed yet another one of its Falcon 9 rockets after launching the vehicle into space this afternoon. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 12:31PM ET, bound for the International Space Station. Around eight minutes after takeoff, the majority of the vehicle landed back on solid ground off the Florida coast. It marks the 14th successful rocket landing for SpaceX, and the sixth time a Falcon 9 has successfully touched on solid ground post-launch.
In fact, SpaceX has yet to lose a rocket during a ground landing. The company has lost a few vehicles during ocean landings, when the rockets attempted to touch down on autonomous drone ships at sea. But all six Falcon 9s that have landed on solid ground have touched down just fine at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 — a ground-based landing site at Cape Canaveral.
Today’s launch was the first for SpaceX in over a month. The brief hiatus was partly due to a temporary closure of the Eastern Range — the areas on the East Coast that support rocket launches. The sites at Cape Canaveral underwent some maintenance last month, and there have not been any launches out of the United States since SpaceX’s previous mission to the ISS in early July.
But SpaceX’s mission today breaks that drought. The Falcon 9 rocket carried a Dragon cargo capsule filled with more than 6,400 pounds of supplies and science experiments for the crew on the International Space Station. The Dragon will spend the next couple of days in orbit before meeting up with the station on Wednesday. The astronauts are scheduled to open up the Dragon on Thursday, but there may be an incentive to open the capsule ahead of schedule, since it’ll be containing extra frozen ice cream this time.
Though this is SpaceX’s first launch in a while, it’s still the company’s 11th launch of the year. That’s already three more missions than SpaceX pulled off last year, and it’s only early August. The company has been promising for a while now that it plans to dramatically increase its launch cadence, and it looks like that goal may finally be fulfilled this year.