Yesterday, Elon Musk wrote the following on the SpaceX website regarding their upcoming the ORBCOMM-2 mission and their first attempt to return a Falcon-9 booster from space and land it vertically near the launch pad.
The Falcon 9 rocket we are about to launch has higher performance than the prior version due mostly to increased boost thrust, deep cryo oxidizer and a much larger upper stage engine bell. It also has a number of reliability enhancements, such as a redundant stage separation system and greater structural safety margins.
This should, if all goes well, give us enough performance to deliver eleven satellites to orbit and bring the booster all the way back to Cape Canaveral to Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1).
T-zero in 15 minutes, so have to sign off. Apologies for any typos in the above. — Elon
SpaceX has done it. They returned the booster stage and landed at Cape Canaveral. They launched 11 satellites as well. I’ve set the video to begin at 30m23s, just as the booster stage begins its return burn and descent.
Update: Just released helicopter footage:
We are entering a new era of space access.