SpaceX has successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket from a space trip for the very first time.
Elon Musk’s commercial space flight company sent the Falcon 9 up on a mission to deploy 11 satellites, but it was the successful re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere and landing at Cape Canaveral, Florida that was the real tricky part.
It’s the first time an unmanned rocket has returned to land safely in an upright position, marking an important milestone in affordable space travel.
Up until now, any rocket used to get into space is ultimately destroyed in Earth’s atmosphere following takeoff. Needless to say, this pushes the cost of space travel through the stratosphere like one of said rockets.
“It’s a revolutionary moment,” Musk told reporters. “No-one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact.”
The achievement is particularly sweet for SpaceX because it’s the first flight since June, when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded en route to the International Space Station. It also follows two failed attempts from SpaceX to land a rocket in this way.
The biggest change for this third attempt was landing the rocket on solid ground rather than on a floating platform out at sea.
Related: Elon Musk’s 5 craziest tech ideas for the future
This is not the first time an unmanned space rocket has successfully landed, however. Blue Origin, the private space flight company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, successfully achieved this very feat only last month.
However, that was a mere test flight rather than a practical space mission, and the Falcon 9 is a much more sophisticated rocket that’s capable of going much deeper into space.