SpaceX launched a Japanese commercial satellite into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 and then landed the rocket’s booster stage on a droneship floating just off of the Florida launch site.
Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station came at 1:26 EDT on Aug. 14. The landing, which came less than 10 minutes later, was SpaceX’s fourth successful droneship landing, and the rocket company has been successful in six of 11 attempted landings on land or sea.
SpaceX aims to make its rockets reliably reusable and wants the option of selecting land or sea landing sites, depending on mission needs and circumstances. The latest satellite launch involved thrust speeds considered too high to make a land-based landing feasible.
The satellite launch for Tokyo-based Sky Perfect JSAT — Asia’s biggest sat operator — follows a similar SpaceX mission in May. The communications satellite was manufactured by Space Systems Loral of Palo Alto, Calif.