5th time's the charm: SpaceX finally lands on its drone ship in the ocean

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SpaceX Rocket Explodes on Landing

SpaceX did it.

On Friday, after four near-misses, the private spaceflight company managed to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Fifth time's the charm," one of the company's webcast hosts said during the SpaceX webcast of the launch and landing.

Photos from today's launch:

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SpaceX April Supply Run
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5th time's the charm: SpaceX finally lands on its drone ship in the ocean
Falcon 9 first stage on our droneship in the Atlantic after propelling the Dragon spacecraft to the @Space_Station https://t.co/Cnnej7zEnt
The 1st stage of the Falcon 9 just landed on our Of Course I Still Love You droneship. Dragon in good orbit https://t.co/SYyUCDZE3k
A NASA image shows the International Space Station as it flew over Madagascar, showing three of the five spacecraft docked to the station in this photo taken by the Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA on April 6, 2016 and released on April 8, 2016. The station crew awaits the scheduled launch today, April 8, of the third resupply vehicle in three weeks: a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. REUTERS/Tim Peake/ESA/NASA/Handout via Reuters FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2016. The rocket will deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2016. The rocket will deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2016. The rocket will deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2016. The rocket will deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2016 as photographers set up remote cameras. The rocket, scheduled for launch later today, is set to deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands ready for launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, April 8, 2016. The rocket, scheduled for launch later today, is set to deliver almost 7,000 pounds of science research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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The webcast showed a beautiful image of the stage landing as the crowd in mission control celebrated.

SEE ALSO: The year in Elon Musk's highs and lows, from Tesla to SpaceX

This isn't the last time SpaceX will try to land their rocket on a barge.

"The next two or three flights are going to be drone ship landings -- there's no choice there, because we can't get to land," Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of flight reliability, said during a press conference ahead of the Dragon launch.

"So it's [this launch] a good opportunity for us to refine our drone ship landing capabilities and get this done, because in the long run it's certainly something that we need to demonstrate over and over again to get the first stage back."

The private spaceflight company successfully landing a rocket stage back on dry land in 2015, when it brought a booster back from space after launching a clutch of satellites to orbit.

Before bringing the booster back for a safe landing on the drone ship, the Falcon 9 sent an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station.

The Dragon is loaded down with thousands of pounds of supplies for the six crew members onboard the space laboratory.

This launch marks the first Dragon mission since a Falcon 9 disintegrated above Florida just after launch in June.

Landing is essential to SpaceX's vision

Eventually, SpaceX wants to produce a host of reusable rockets in order to greatly reduce the cost of launching to space.

Those rocket stages should be able to land on both a drone ship and dry land, depending on the needs of the mission.

For example, it's easier to land a rocket on a drone ship after launching a high velocity mission, while it's better to bring a launcher back to land for other missions.

Basically, you might need more fuel for one mission versus another, so that dictates where a booster can land.

If the reusable rocket plan is a success, it could change the way rockets work today.

At the moment, most rockets burn up in the atmosphere after sending payloads on their way, essentially wasting the hardware after one use. But if companies can bring rocket stages back to the ground, they could be reused, saving money and time between missions.

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