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article imageSpace X launch and booster recovery — A booming success

By Karen Graham     Jul 18, 2016 in Science
Space X is on a roll with its launch of the Falcon 9 rocket early Monday, sending its robotic Dragon spacecraft speeding toward the International Space Station (ISS) with a critical space station docking port.
But the icing on the cake was successfully bringing back the Falcon 9's leftover first-stage booster, which landed just a few miles from the launch site.
Local ABC affiliate WFTV 9 reports that Central Florida residents had a rather rude awakening early Monday when the Falcon 9's first-stage booster came hurtling back to Earth faster than the speed of sound, creating a loud cracking sonic boom that jolted people out of their sleep and set off car alarms.
The 12:45 a.m. launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida was SpaceX's second attempt at delivering a new-style docking adaptor for NASA. These crucial docking adaptors called International Docking Adapters (IDAs) will be essential for future international missions.
Space X attempted to send the docking adaptor to the ISS during a June 2015 Dragon Mission. That mission ended in failure when the Falcon 9 rocket broke apart less than three minutes after liftoff. explains that only Russian space vehicles, like the Soyuz spacecraft and robotic Progress freighters, can dock with the ISS because they have special ports on the Russian side of the station. On the American side, we have had to use grappling arms to grab and dock our spacecraft.
The new docking adaptors follow an international standard and are designed to allow a variety of space vehicles to dock with the space station. That's "the big darned deal about IDA," David Clemen, Boeing's director of development/modifications for the space station said on July 13.
The first stage booster's vertical touchdown on land is only the second such land landing for an orbital mission, which will allow the booster to fly again to cut back on launch costs. “The stage one came back to land, and if you missed the sonic boom, it’s right there at Landing Complex 1,” vice president of flight reliability for SpaceX, Hans Koenigsmann, said.
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