Miami: A SpaceX rocket blasted off on Monday toward the International Space Station, carrying a load of supplies, including a docking adapter that future spaceships will use to park at the orbiting outpost.
Following the launch, the rocket separated, sending the cargo to orbit. Then, the first stage of the rocket successfully fired its engines again to maneuver its way back to land on solid ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
SpaceX mission control erupted in cheers as live video footage showed the first stage of the rocket landing steady and upright, marking the second such solid-ground touchdown for SpaceX.
It first accomplished the feat in December 2015, as part of the California-based company’s ongoing effort to re-use costly rocket parts instead of jettisoning them into the ocean. The nearly 5,000 pounds of cargo on board includes an international docking adaptor which will function as a parking spot for commercial space taxis in the coming years.
The docking adaptor is the first of two to be sent to the ISS, and will enable future arrivals by privately owned spaceships which SpaceX and Boeing are constructing.