SpaceX Put Its First Landed Rocket On Display Outside Its Headquarters

Something big stands in Hawthorne

falcon 9 test
Testing of the Falcon 9 first stage from May JCSAT mission at SpaceX’s Central Texas test facility.SpaceX

We don't typically get rockets back in one piece. They're shot beyond the atmosphere at 18,000 miles per hour and come back moments or weeks later at hypersonic speeds, usually in bits and pieces left in the ocean. So if we're going to start bringing them back — as SpaceX sticks more and more landings — we'll need to know where to retire them, too.

The first rocket to come home safely is also the first to be put on permanent display, as Spaceflight Now reports. SpaceX's Falcon 9 launcher stage rocket made history in December 2015 as the first to return to a landing pad on Florida's Space Coast. It blasted 250,000 feet into the atmosphere, sent 11 Orbcomm communications satellites into orbit, and returned to Earth in one reusable piece. Now, all 156 feet of the rocket stands outside the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, following approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Elon Musk has wanted to bring it home to put on display since the successful launch, according to Spaceflight Now. Although it returned in great shape, it was never intended to fly again, but was used to research next iterations of Falcon 9.