History repeats: SpaceX launch reuses Falcon 9 booster

Elon Musk's SpaceX has seemingly mastered launching a rocket into space and safely landing it back on Earth, with multiple successful missions already completed.

It also marked the first time a single rocket booster had ever been launched - and landed - twice.

The 15-foot (4.6m) Falcon 9 rocket was refurbished by SpaceX after its use by NASA in 2016 and, using its nine original engines, sent a satellite for the SES satellite communications company in Luxembourg.

In April past year, the same rocket delivered an unmanned Dragon cargo ship to space destined for the International Space Station before returning to the barge for a smooth touchdown. The second stage separated at the two minute and 41 second mark and the SES-10 satellite was deployed 32 minutes after launch. By reusing the first stage SpaceX can offset a portion of the cost of building a rocket and jetting satellites into orbit.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket costs about $62 million. SpaceX has managed the latter as it launched and then recovered its Falcon 9 rocket earlier today.

The satellite operator hailed the launch as "one step closer to rapid rocket reusability" and "one step closer to faster, easier access to space". The move is believed to reduce costs while boosting speed.

Having first been used on a resupply mission to the ISS in April a year ago, the Falcon 9 in question was refurbished over a four-month period.

"DARPA facilitated the first SpaceX launch, and now commercial space is coming into its own". Now, the question becomes how many times a rocket can be used before it has to be retired. He said that this project made it clear that "you can fly and refly and orbital class booster", which, as he describes, is the most expensive rocket part.

Musk heaped appreciation on SES for its faith in SpaceX and estimated that there may be as many as 6 flights this year that will utilize a recovered booster.

To cap it all off, the booster detached itself from the rest of the rocket during the launch, and successfully touched down on a sea-based landing pad - meaning it could, in theory, be repurposed once again, although this particular booster will be donated to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for display, seeing as it's history-making and all that.

SES received a discount for joining the inaugural run, chieftechnical officer Martin Halliwell told reporters this week, declining to specify the cost.

  • Zachary Reyes