Atop ship, rocket returns to Florida port

- For the first time, a rocket has sailed its way back to Port Canaveral.  The converted barge carrying the Falcon 9 first stage returned to land early this morning after last week's historic launch and landing.

The unusual scene unfolded in the darkness, right around 1 a.m.  The 135-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket was still upright, bathed in spotlights, as the ship "Of Course I Still Love You" sailed in.  Workers could be seen on deck, providing a sense of scale as they scurried around the tethered rocket's base.

The Falcon 9 launched Friday on a mission to send cargo to the International Space Station.  The landing of the first stage aboard the unmanned ship was the first successful at-sea landing in five attempts and a key step in the company's goal to improve reliability and lower launch costs through reusability.

After the launch last week, company CEO Elon Musk said this rocket undergo as many as 10 test firings at Cape Canaveral and could be ready to be reflown as soon as June, assuming nothing significant is found.

The first stage that landed on solid ground at Cape Canaveral back in December -- the only other stage to have landed safely -- is going to go on display at SpaceX's California headquarters, Musk added.

PHOTOS:  Friday'sSpaceX Falcon 9 launch

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Atop ship, rocket returns to Florida port
  • Puerto Rican astronaut gets double dose of hurricanes
  • NOAA video shows 2017 solar eclipse shadow over the United States
  • SpaceX Dragon delivers experiments, ice cream to space station
  • SpaceX launches experiments, ice cream to space station
  • NASA's JunoCam captures epic photos of Jupiter's Great Red Spot
  • Chinese students enter bunker to simulate life on a space station
  • Total solar eclipse map shows what it will look like from wherever you are
  • NASA marks 2 months to total solar eclipse
  • Space trash is getting cleaned up with magnets