SpaceX is halfway to history with its latest launch

Key Points
  • SpaceX launched and landed its first of two different Falcon 9 rockets on Friday.
  • Elon Musk's company would be the first to both launch and land two rockets in 48 hours.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Bill Ingalls | NASA | Reuters

Elon Musk's SpaceX on Friday completed the first half of its attempt at making launch history this weekend.

"Falcon 9 first stage has landed," the company tweeted on Friday.

Tweet @SpaceX.

SpaceX is attempting to be the first to both launch and land two different rockets within a 48-hour window.

The BulgariaSat-1 Mission launched at 3:10 p.m. ET on Friday, under 90 percent favorable weather conditions, and delivered a commercial communications satellite into orbit. This is the second time that specific Falcon 9's first stage was used this year, with a previously successful launch-and-land in January.

On Sunday, SpaceX will launch another Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET. SpaceX is delivering its second payload of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, under a contract to deliver 5 Iridium satellites into low-Earth orbit by mid-2018. This mission will also include landing the Falcon 9's first stage, on the Pacific Ocean-based "Just Read the Instructions" drone ship.

These are the eighth and ninth Falcon 9 launches for SpaceX this year, as the private company aims to prove that its reusable rockets can cut both the costs and turnaround times for extraterrestrial missions. And as costs come down, more companies gain access to the growing commercial space industry.

Shortly before Friday's launch, Musk warned on Twitter that the booster would face the highest ever reentry force experienced by a Falcon 9.

Tweet @elonmusk.

Despite that warning, the first stage of the rocket settled safely onto the aquatic landing pad.


A new rival for Elon Musk has just blasted off in the space race

A new rival for Elon Musk has just blasted off in the space race