A private company succeeded Friday in landing a rocket upright at sea for the first time in history.
SpaceX, which handles cargo launches for the International Space Station, said on its Twitter feed that the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket that had lifted the Dragon cargo capsule to orbit had landed on a floating barge.
The company posted a video of the landing on its Twitter feed.
President Obama congratulated SpaceX in a message posted to his official Twitter feed, as did NASA.
The race to develop a rocket that can land itself after traveling to Earth orbit continued Friday as Blue Origin successfully returned a vehicle to the planet’s surface for the second time.
Blue Origin’s feat marks the first time that re-use of a rocket has been demonstrated to be feasible.
The launch of the Jeff Bezos-owned company’s New Shepard rocket occurred in west Texas. After traveling 101.7 kilometers into the atmosphere, the rocket landed vertically at spot near its launch location.
“The very same New Shepard booster that flew above the Karman line and then landed vertically at its launch site last November has now flown and landed again, demonstrating reuse,” Bezos said in a statement posted on the Blue Origin website.
Bezos was referring to an altitude generally regarded as the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Blue Origin had previously launched and landed the same rocket in November 2015.
The company has not yet matched the altitude achievement of rival SpaceX. On Dec. 21 that firm returned a rocket that had traveled to orbit to a safe landing on Earth’s surface.
More recently SpaceX experienced a setback when an attempt to land a rocket at sea failed. One of the legs on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket collapsed when the vehicle touched down Jan. 17 on a floating barge, causing the rocket to tip over and explode.