SpaceX has successfully brought NASA’s new exoplanet-hunting telescope to high Earth orbit, from which, after one more burn, the satellite will be deployed. From there, it will get a gravity assist from the moon and enter a wide orbit, beginning its mission. Meanwhile, back on the surface, the Falcon 9’s first stage landed successfully on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
This is the 8th launch this year, and the 24th time SpaceX has landed a Falcon 9 first stage — that is, the part of the rocket that accelerates it out of the atmosphere. Although the plan is eventually to catch the falling fairing in a “giant catcher’s mitt,” as Elon Musk once described it, the boat-borne mitt is currently in the Pacific Ocean and this launch was over the Atlantic.