Entrepreneur Elon Musk calls launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ''another step towards the stars'' after its reusable main-stage booster makes breakthrough landing at sea. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hailed the breakthrough landing of its rocket booster at sea on Friday (April 8), during a post-launch news conference at the Kennedy Space Center. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on a cargo run for the International Space Station and its reusable main-stage booster landed itself on an ocean platform in a dramatic spaceflight first. "I think this is a really good milestone for the future of space flight," said Musk. "I think it's another step towards the stars. In order for us to really open up access to space, we've got to achieve full and rapid reusability," he added. The liftoff at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) from Cape Canaveral marked the resumption of resupply flights by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies for NASA following a launch accident in June 2015 that destroyed a different cargo payload for the space station. About 2-1/2 minutes after Friday's launch, the main part of the 23-story tall, two-stage SpaceX rocket separated, turned around and headed toward a landing platform floating in the Atlantic about 185 miles (300 km) northeast of Cape Canaveral. A live video feed broadcast on NASA television showed the rocket booster, its four landing legs extended, descending over the ocean before settling itself upright on the platform, roughly eight minutes after launch. Four previous at-sea landing attempts had failed. But a Falcon 9 main-stage rocket achieved a successful ground-based touchdown in December, the first ever during an actual commercial space mission. Friday's feat marked yet another major milestone in the quest by high-tech entrepreneur Musk, founder and chief executive of the private launch service, to develop a cheap, reusable launch vehicle. Asked how he felt the moment the rocket booster he landed, he said he hugged SpaceX Vice-President Hans Koenigsmann. The rocket's cargo ship, dubbed Dragon, was due to arrive on Sunday at the International Space Station, the $100 billion laboratory flying about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.