The launch and landing of the Falcon 9 Reusable rocket is a remarkable technical achievement and makes for an impressive bit of video, too.
Going to space is an expensive business, in no small part because so much of the stuff that gets you there is throwaway: A whole rocket goes up, but only a little bit of it comes down. It's essentially a multi-million-dollar Bic lighter that you flick once and then throw into the toilet, and that's an awfully wasteful way to go about things.
To help reduce those costs, SpaceX is developing a reusable version of its Falcon 9 rocket, the creatively-named Falcon 9 Reusable, that when complete will be able to maneuver, land and be reused in future missions. A multi-story Roman Candle may not the most aerodynamic vehicle in the world but this new video, shot from a drone, demonstrates that they can be handled effectively.
You can see in the video that the rocket launches, hovers and lands with its legs extended, but SpaceX said it will soon begin tests with the legs retracted. And if this all seems a bit familiar, you're likely thinking of the very similar Grasshopper program from last year. SpaceX said the Falcon 9R program represents "the next step toward reusability," and that by moving to its rocket development facility in New Mexico, it will be able to test at higher altitudes than are permitted in Texas and "prove out landing cases that are more flight-like."
This is the future. It's pretty cool, wouldn't you say?