A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket recovered at sea from its maiden flight almost a year ago blasted off again from Florida on Thursday in the first successful launch of a recycled orbital-class booster, which scored a double feat by returning to land on a floating platform at sea. It was delivering a communications satellite that will provide TV services to Latin America into orbit.
SpaceX's used Falcon 9 rocket is vertical on its launch pad in Cape Canaveral. Re-using rockets will save on manufacturing costs.
By reusing rockets, SpaceX aims to cut its costs by about 30 per cent, the company has said.
Following stage separation after this evening's launch, the Falcon 9's first stage will attempt a landing on SpaceX's "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship that will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
A new Falcon 9 rocket costs $62 million, but the cost of its fuel is only $200,000 to $300,000.
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There's a backup launch window on April 1, according to SpaceX, in case the flight needs to be postponed due to bad weather or issues with the rocket. But more importantly, it'll gain the company a lot more customers - Musk said that many firms were waiting for the outcome of the launch before agreeing to fly on a recycled rocket.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk exclaimed there was a "revolution in spaceflight" Thursday after one of his recycled rockets successfully entered orbit for a second time. Likening rockets to expensive cars, Musk says you wouldn't drive a vehicle just one time, so, why in the world should we be limited to using a rocket just one time?
Traditionally, rockets are designed for a single use only, burning up or crashing into the ocean after liftoff.
Elon said the feat means it can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket.
Screengrab from SpaceX's live video feed. The company has now shown that the rockets can be re-used, which will lower the cost of space missions and space flights. Luxembourg operator SES collaborated on the test project, and its chief technology officer said it was a significant day for the industry. Next goal is reflight within 24 hours.