SpaceX marks another successful rocket landing

For the sixth time in eight months, the private spaceflight company has landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket.

Craig Rubadoux/Florida Today/AP
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lights up the night sky as it streaks over the Cocoa Beach Pier during liftoff early Sunday from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Aboard is a Japanese communications satellite, JCSAT-16.

SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket once again on Sunday morning, for the sixth time in the last eight months. 

The Falcon 9, a two-stage rocket, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:26 a.m. ET Sunday, and returned for a landing on the deck of a robotic ship less than nine minutes later. While in the air, it boosted JCSAT-16, a commercial communications satellite for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit. 

The Falcon 9's successful launches mark significant progress toward the private spaceflight company's goal of developing fully reusable rockets. 

As The Christian Science Monitor's Pete Spotts reported in December: 

The ability to launch, land, refurbish, and relaunch rockets with the reliability of an airliner is widely seen as crucial if humanity is to become a truly spacefaring civilization. By shifting from expendable rockets to reusable rockets, launch costs are expected to drop significantly, reducing the price tag for putting payloads and people in space.

Not every launch of the Falcon 9 has had a happy ending: while the spacecraft successfully landed four times in July, it also failed to do so three times that same month. Representatives from the company acknowledged that there would be factors involved in Sunday's launch that could prevent the rocket from landing successfully. 

"Given this mission’s GTO destination, the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging," the company wrote in a press release prior to the launch. 

Sunday's mission was the fourth to land on the robotic ship, named Of Course I Still Love You. Due to the distant destination of the rocket – Geostationary Transfer Orbit – it was unable to make it back to the launch site at Cape Canaveral, so the ship was its only landing option. 

SpaceX could begin re-flying the first stages of the landed Falcon 9s as early as this fall, the company's founder, Elon Musk, has said. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to SpaceX marks another successful rocket landing
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today