Welcome to the new space age

On May 1st, SpaceX put a spy satellite into orbit for the U.S. Department of Defense, ending the United Launch Alliance’s 10-year monopoly on U.S. military satellite launches. Although the launch was delayed by one day due to complications with the first-stage engine sensor, the Falcon 9 rocket managed to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday before successfully delivering its payload into low-Earth orbit. Afterwards, the booster made its return to terra firma, landing intact at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The whole operation was captured in a live webcast, which you can re-watch right here.

The video is over 22 minutes long, but the action doesn’t really get going until the 11-minute, 30-second mark with the final countdown to liftoff. After taking flight, the video shows the Falcon 9 streaking upwards, eventually breaking free of the atmosphere and giving us a view of the inky blackness that surrounds this pale blue dot of ours. Then the booster does a quick about-face, burning the reserves and landing upright. Inspirational? You bet your ass it is.

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