SpaceX Rocket from Historic Demo-2 Mission Returns to Terra Firma
The two-stage reusable Falcon 9 rocket that launched SpaceX's first-ever crewed mission, called Demo-2 has now reached land, according to a SpaceX tweet. Demo-2 launched on Saturday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley safely toward the International Space Station (ISS).
Approximately 9 minutes after liftoff, the rocket landed on the SpaceX drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You," which was strategically positioned a few hundred miles off the Florida coast. The ship then made its way to Florida's Port Canaveral arriving with the booster secured on board on Tuesday.
It's still unclear what will happen to the reusable rocket. SpaceX has a habit of refurbishing and reflying Falcon 9 first stages. It's part of CEO Elon Musk's plans of keeping costs down and is also eco-friendly.
However, there is some speculation that it might be preserved as a historic artifact just like the first Falcon 9 that ever landed successfully which now sits outside SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California. There is an extra reason to save this particular booster as an artifact and that is because it is engraved with NASA's traditional worm logo which was resurrected just for this mission.
Demo-2 was a truly historic mission, marking the first human-carrying spaceflight to launch from American soil since 2011. The mission saw SpaceX and NASA join forces to achieve this impressive feat.
SpaceX has a contract with NASA's Commercial Crew Program to fly six crewed missions to the orbital space station. This was the first and served as a test to validate the aircraft's capabilities.