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Watch: SpaceX reusable Falcon rocket lifts off, lowers back to Earth

April 21, 2014|By Amy Hubbard

New SpaceX video shows its Falcon 9 Reusable rocket launching, hovering and then successfully landing again. The video has gone viral online with more than 2.4 million views as of early Monday afternoon.

It's the first test flight of the F9R and an exciting moment for Elon Musk and company: Reusable rockets are the holy grail of rocketry. As the Los Angeles Times' W.J. Hennigan recently reported, a reusable system represents sizable savings in development and operation of the rocket. 

Musk tweeted about the test flight, which was filmed by drone, on Friday -- the same day that a SpaceX Falcon 9 was blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a NASA cargo mission to the International Space Station.

Friday's launch was the first attempt by SpaceX to recover the first stage of its rocket after separation. In a news conference Friday, Musk said the effort to retrieve the part was marred by rough seas and appeared unsuccessful.

But, he said, "we're really starting to connect the dots of what's needed" to make such recovery possible. The video of the successful test launch may provide further proof of that.

In the video, the rocket can be seen launching at SpaceX's Texas facility. It rises to about 820 feet, pauses and then returns neatly to Earth. The smoke clears and there sits the F9R.

SpaceX says the craft took off with its legs fixed in the down position. Next step will be lifting off with legs "stowed against the side of the rocket and then extending them just before landing."

Follow me at @AmyTheHub

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