SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean early Friday after launching a Japanese communications satellite into orbit.
The two-stage rocket lifted off on schedule at 1:21am (5:21am GMT or 10:51am IST) with a telecommunications satellite owned by Japanese operator SKY Perfect JSAT.
As the second stage moved into orbital position, the first stage fell back for the landing, firing its engine to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.
SpaceX had not expected to land the first stage successfully because of the returning rocket's high speed, but streaming video captured a picture-perfect touchdown.
SpaceX wants to perfect the technique as part of its effort to re-use rocket parts instead of jettisoning the costly equipment into the ocean after each launch.