SpaceX launches from a historic NASA pad -- then sticks the landing

You know the saying: If at first you don't succeed, launch a rocket from a historic NASA pad and show everyone how it's done.

That may not be the exact saying, but close enough. And that is pretty much precisely what SpaceX did on Sunday, launching a cargo-filled rocket to the ISS, and then landing its first stage back on Earth only minutes later. 

In IT Blogwatch, we do not have a problem. 

So what is going on? Laurel Kornfeld has some background:

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon capsule...for the International Space Station (ISS) from NASA's historic Launch Complex 39A on Sunday morning, February 19.
The revamped launch site, last utilized for the final space shuttle launch on July 8, 2011, was...used to launch NASA's Apollo moon missions and many space shuttle flights between 1981 and 2011.

SpaceX must have been pleased with a successful launch after a not so successful one last year. Colin Dwyer tells us exactly how this one went:

SpaceX's...first attempt, scrubbed Saturday...just 13 seconds before liftoff, was foiled by concerns over an anomaly discovered in the rocket's steering system.
On Sunday...the launch went smoothly. Not only did SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lift off without a hitch, its first stage...returned to land...back on a platform on Earth. Shortly afterward, the Dragon spacecraft it was carrying detached as planned from the rocket.

What happens next? When will it get to its destination? Catherine Park is in the know:

The rocket is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Wednesday...Astronauts Thomas Pesquet...and Shane Kimbrough...will use the space station's robotic arm to reel the Dragon into the ISS.

So what was the Falcon 9 carrying to the ISS? Sarah Lewin has the details:

This...[mission's] particularly science-focused...The research and hardware sent to the station represents the work of about 800 scientists around the world...and the space station crew will get to work right away unloading and running those experiments. Dragon is packed with almost 5,500 lbs. of cargo...and will return to Earth after 29 days carrying nearly 5,000 lbs. back.

This launch must be a big deal for SpaceX, considering they had a pretty substantial mistep last year. Marcia Dunn reminds us what happened:

It was a momentous comeback for SpaceX. The last time SpaceX had a rocket ready to fly from Cape Canaveral, it blew up on a neighboring pad during prelaunch testing on Sept. 1. Although the company...returned to flight last month from California, the focus was on getting...Launch Complex 39A ready for action given that the pad with the accident was left unusable. The damaged pad should be back in action...this year.

Let's back up for a minute to the first stage landing. Eric Mack tells us what he thinks:

The...launch from certainly a milestone, but the landing that followed is nothing less than the continued normalization of science fiction into science reality. The...rocket recovery was the third at Cape Canaveral, in addition to five more landed at sea on unmanned drone barge landing pads.
The weather was cloudy with low visibility for the launch and landing Sunday, but...the rocket stage descends from the clouds, deploying its landing tripod and nails its target near dead center.

Wish you could have seen that landing? Luckily, a drone captured the whole thing on video:

Pretty amazing, right? Marc O Griofa MD PhD certainly thinks so:

Wow ... That is literally one of the coolest things I've ever seen!

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