On April 8, after several failed attempts, SpaceX did the impossible and landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a ship floating in the ocean. Now, SpaceX has released new footage that allows you to watch the stunning rocket landing in an interactive 360-degree video.
This landing was a huge step in reusable rockets, which will significantly decrease the cost of spaceflight as well as the time window between launches.
It was a feat that SpaceX compared to “trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm.” The 14-stories-tall rocket was traveling upwards at a pace of nearly a mile per second, or 3,000 miles per hour, before SpaceX stabilized it for reentry into the atmosphere.
They had to flip the rocket 180 degrees so that it pointed back toward the ground and slow its speed to about 550 miles per hour before attempting to land it on the ship. Millions of tiny adjustments were necessary to keep the rocket from catastrophically breaking its course.
Aside from the chaotic plunge through the atmosphere and the struggle of keeping the rocket on track, the unanchored ship floating in the ocean was a small target, and not exactly a stationary one either.
Although SpaceX had already nailed landing a reusable rocket on a launch pad in December, successfully completing a sea-landing was important for a few reasons.
This method uses less fuel than landing on a launch pad, which will allow for more fuel to be used accelerating the payload into orbit.
There’s also the matter of safety. It’s harder to land on a house or a shopping mall when you’re aiming for a ship at sea.
Despite what SpaceX determined were 50% odds against success, the Falcon 9 landed safely on target and is currently being tested and prepped for a second launch that CEO Elon Musk says could happen as early as May or June.
You can watch the history-making landing from any angle in the video below: