SpaceX has pulled off another stunning landing on a ship 422 miles off the Florida coast.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted up from Cape Canaveral at 5:39 p.m., carrying a Thaicom 8 commercial communications satellite to orbit.
The satellite will provide broadcast and data services for Thailand, Southeast Asia, India and Africa. It will operate for 15 years, staying powered using solar wings that extend out, each of which holds four panels.
“Falcon 9 has landed!” said a SpaceX flight commentator.
SpaceX then successfully landed the first stage of the rocket on the company’s autonomous droneship. It was the third successful ship landing and the fourth altogether.
Because Thaicom 8 was delivered to a high orbit — meaning the first-stage booster was subject to high velocities and reentry heating — SpaceX had said a successful landing would be challenging.
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said via Twitter that the rocket’s landing speed was close to the design maximum. He said it was probably OK, “but some risk of tipping.”
The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon, but was postponed “out of an abundance of caution.”
Company Chief Executive Elon Musk said in a tweet at the time that there was a “tiny glitch” in the motion of the upper stage engine actuator that was “worth investigating.”