Rockets like NASA’s Atlas V are amazing feats of engineering, but they have one small problem: Once they’re done launching to the stars, they become $100 million pieces of junk left to be incinerated upon re-entry.
That’s where SpaceX’s reusable rockets come in. They’re designed to provide spacecraft the lift they need, before detaching and landing back on the ground. In theory they can shave untold millions off expensive rocket launches. Our minds were blown last time when Elon Musk’s reusable Grasshopper safely touched down to Earth, and now, we have new footage of the Falcon 9 Reusable doing the same thing.
Here, in just its second test flight, the F9R ascends to a height of over 3,200 feet, hovers for a bit, and then floats back down to the ground while remaining vertical without exploding and scaring the cud out of the cows below. Pretty neat.