A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared off its seaside launch pad in Florida on Friday, then turned around a minutes later and settled itself on a platform floating in the ocean.
The unprecedented feat caps years of work by Elon Musk's space company and follows a successful ground landing of a returning Falcon rocket in December. Four previous attempts to land the rocket's first stage on the ocean platform had failed.
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"We have a Falcon 9 aboard," a crewman aboard the recovery ship radioed to SpaceX Mission Control.
A live video of the landing, broadcast on NASA TV, showed the Falcon first-stage descending vertically through clear skies then slowing, with its four landing legs extended, and gently settling itself down on the platform.
A minute later, the Dragon cargo ship that the rocket had boosted toward space separated from the Falcon's upper stage and began a 2.5 day trip to the International Space Station.
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SpaceX has said being able to land its rockets on the ocean is critical because the fuel requirement to deliver most of the payloads flying on the Falcon 9 fleet don't leave enough reserves to get the rockets back to the launch site.
Watch the moment of landing in this recording of Friday's SpaceX webcast: