SpaceX welcomed home this past weekend the first Falcon 9 rocket that successfully landed on its own by proudly displaying it as a historic monument in front of the company’s Hawthorne, California headquarters. The 156 foot first-stage rocket made history back in December of last year when it guided itself back onto solid ground at Cape Canaveral, Florida where it originally departed from. The mission which sent 11 Orbcomm communication satellites into space would mark the first time SpaceX completed a vertical first stage landing without the rocket tipping over, and bursting into flames.
A large crane and SpaceX crew were seen positioning the Falcon 9 booster in an upright position on the intersection of Crenshaw Blvd. and Jack Northrop Ave., the southeast corner of SpaceX’s main building. The dominant structure towers over a neighboring multi-story parking garage and can be seen as far away as nearby Interstate 105 – closest freeway to SpaceX, Tesla’s Design Studio and the Los Angeles Supercharger (StreetView).
Though SpaceX has gone on to successfully land a total of six rockets after ascending into orbit, the Falcon 9 being placed as a historic monument outside of the Hawthorne headquarters was the company’s first big first step towards its goal of building reusable rockets.
Currently, space missions require first stage boosters to propel payloads into orbit, however these rockets are typically designed to burn up on reentry leading to high costs for spaceflights. Follow up missions would require a completely new rocket to be built.
SpaceX has designed its Falcon 9 rockets to not only withstand reentry, but also navigate itself back onto a launch pad on land or sea. This has allowed Elon Musk’s space company to reduce costs for commercial spaceflight by a hundredfold.
“If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred. A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.” – Elon Musk circa June 10, 2015
The Falcon 9 stands proudly at SpaceX and worth seeing, even if just passing by on Crenshaw Blvd. Relive this Falcon 9’s historic “The Falcon has landed” moment through SpaceX’s highlight video from earlier this year.