Elon Musk's humanity-altering company, SpaceX (no, not Tesla), is trying its darndest to create a re-useable rocket booster. But they're not trying to do it with parachutes, followed by a big splashdown. They're trying to do it with more rocket fuel, and this video is proof of a big step toward that goal.
This return of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster was really just a test, in a way. The ultimate goal is to be able to land the thing on, well, dry land, instead of making it go through the process of landing in the sea. That's because getting something with precision onto dry land can ultimately be cheaper, and could facilitate a quicker turn-around time for the booster.
You might have already seen the proof of concept version of this idea in the SpaceX Grasshopper, which completed its test program last year, and the F9R, which has gone through a bunch of non-orbital tests:
The test of the landing rocket function followed the Falcon 9's launch last week of six communications satellites, and while the booster itself was destroyed by a self-generated wave upon splashing into the Atlantic, SpaceX says in the video description that the test "confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity."
And if that's not impressive enough, they also say they're working on a way to stop all that ice buildup on the camera, so everything stays nice and pretty.
Not bad, Musk.