This Is What It's Like to Ride Along On a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch

Stunning video takes us to space and back again.
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Stunning video takes us to space and back again.

Successful Falcon 9 rocket launches are slowly becoming pretty common for Elon Musk's SpaceX. What's not quite as common is a quick media turnaround for footage of the liftoffs. After a successful mission Friday, SpaceX quickly posted this remarkable sped-up look at the journey of Falcon 9's first stage from launchpad to space then back to its ocean-borne landing pad.

According to SpaceX's media release (PDF) about the launch, Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral's Air Force Station carrying a satellite for the Asian satellite operator THAICOM, THAICOM 8. The video shows a journey that in reality lasted well over an hour. In telescoping the video's speed to a mere 30 seconds the measured journey becomes more of a thrill ride—especially when re-entering the atmosphere, as the afterburners kick in to brake the rocket before it lands firmly on the SpaceX "Of Course I Still Love You" Droneship.

We'd love more like this from SpaceX, as it makes it that much more exciting to watch the company's evolution into a viable private alternative to government-run space exploration. 

For another look at the same footage in higher resolution, watch SpaceX's Instagram version of the video below.