Private spaceflight: landed on boat for the first time

About ten months ago, a freighter had exploded on its way to the ISS. Now the SpaceX company has sent out a new one. And the landing also works – in the Atlantic.

"Dragon" takes off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday. Photo: ap

After numerous failures, the U.S. space company SpaceX has succeeded for the first time in landing a rocket stage on an unmanned craft in the Atlantic Ocean. The Falcon9 rocket had earlier on Friday (local time) brought a "Dragon" space freighter safely on its way to the International Space Station ISS, some ten months after the last attempt in which an explosion had destroyed the freighter. The "Dragon" had successfully lifted off at the head of the rocket from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in the U.S. state of Florida, the U.S. space agency Nasa and SpaceX announced.

The first rocket stage then landed upright on an unmanned floating platform in the Atlantic called "Of Course I Still Love You," according to SpaceX and founder Elon Musk. This maneuver had previously failed in several attempts. "Congratulations to SpaceX for landing a rocket at sea," U.S. President Barack Obama wrote via short message service Twitter. "Inventors like you and Nasa are making it possible for America to continue to lead in space exploration."

Several space companies are currently trying to make rockets land again. They could then be used multiple times, which would save enormous costs. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ company BlueOrigin and SpaceX had already succeeded in doing this on solid ground, but so far all attempts had failed at sea.

The "Dragon" has supplies and scientific experiments on board and is scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Sunday. Among other things, the "Dragon" also carries a kind of inflatable living module that is to be coupled to the ISS and tested. The researchers hope to gain insights into the possibilities of life outside the Earth.

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