This is one for the history books of engineering and humanity — the successful launch and return of a rocket from orbit, to its stage-one state.
The 11-minute exposure seen here shows the launch and re-entry of the rocket.
Think of it as flipping a pencil over the Empire State building, having it come back down on the eraser end, and land vertically — in less than half an hour. The Falcon 9 rocket did this, plus deliver 11 ORBCOMM communications satellites that expanded in orbit, thus successfully completing all aspects of the mission.
An interesting note however, as Elon Musk states that while the Falcon 9 is designed to be a reusable rocket, this particular model will stay as-is. “I think we’ll probably keep this one on the ground,” he said, “just [because] it’s kind of unique, it’s the first one we’ve brought back.”
The next Falcon 9 launch will occur sometime next year.