SpaceX lofted the super-secret Zuma spacecraft for the U.S. government tonight (Jan. 8), successfully executing a mission that also featured yet another landing by the first stage of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket.
The Falcon 9 lifted off at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT on Jan. 9) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on Florida’s Space Coast.
The booster’s two stages separated 2 minutes and 19 seconds into flight. The second stage continued carrying the mysterious Zuma to its destination in low-Earth orbit (LEO), while the first stage began maneuvering its way back to terra firma for a touchdown at Landing Zone 1, a SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral. [How SpaceX Lands Falcon 9 Rockets]
The first stage aced that landing, a little less than 8 minutes after taking off.