A new video provides an epic view of a historic SpaceX mission.
On Tuesday morning (Jan. 3), a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on a “rideshare” mission called Transporter-6 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying 114 satellites to orbit for a variety of customers.
Transporter-6 was the 200th orbital flight for SpaceX since the company’s 2002 founding. And it was the 15th mission for this particular Falcon 9’s first stage, tying a SpaceX reuse record.
The first stage chronicled its journey to space and back with an onboard camera, the footage from which SpaceX released via Twitter (opens in new tab) on Thursday morning (Jan. 5).
The video accelerates the action considerably, compressing liftoff and landing into just 90 seconds. (In reality, the booster touched down successfully at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone 1 about 8.5 minutes after launch.)
But the sped-up footage still captures the essentials of a Falcon 9 flight nicely. It shows how the rocket’s plume spreads out as the vehicle travels higher into ever-thinner air, for example, and highlights how intricately the booster controls its descent when coming back home to Earth.
That control comes courtesy of multiple features, including orientation-shifting nitrogen-gas thrusters and hypersonic grid fins, waffle-like structures near the booster’s base that it deploys after reaching space.
SpaceX launched 61 orbital missions in 2022, nearly doubling the company record of 31, which was set in 2021.
Transporter-6 was the company’s first flight of 2023, and many more are doubtless coming. In August 2022, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said (opens in new tab) that the company is “aiming for up to 100 flights next year.”
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).