SpaceX has successfully launched and landed the first stage of its new, modified Falcon 9 rocket, marking a historic moment for space exploration and space travel in general.
The launch comes after several delays, with the original launch set for Sunday night. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, however, announced that the launch would be delayed for better weather.
The Falcon 9 launched bearing 11 Orbcomm communication satellites, bringing them into orbit. The real excitement, however, was not the launch of the rocket, but rather the successful landing of the first-stage booster, marking the first time in history that an orbital rocket has successfully landed back on Earth.
It's important to note that earlier this year Amazon's Blue Origin rocket did achieve a landing, but Blue Origin is not an orbital rocket. Its New Shepard rocket made a soft landing back in Texas after a successful unmanned suborbital test flight on Nov. 23, 2015.
What the landing means is that companies like SpaceX are well on their way toward making space travel cost far less than it currently does, not only making it potentially possible for consumers to enjoy space travel in the future at an affordable price, but also allowing smaller companies to launch satellites into space, whereas before they would have needed millions of dollars to do so.
SpaceX attempted to bring its Falcon 9 rocket back to land on an ocean barge earlier this year, but both times it failed at the last minute. Since then, the company has leased a landing pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. This was the first time that the company tried to land its rocket on Earth.