SpaceX makes history by sending a recycled rocket into space

He expects turnarounds - where rockets land, refuel and return to space - to be as little as 24 hours in the future, perhaps even by next year, and this could cut costs and speed up flights considerably. The 5,300kg Ku-band satellite will provide broadcast coverage and internet connectivity over Latin America.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which has already made a trip into orbit and back, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Amazon founder has launched and landed a suborbital rocket five times but is yet to reuse any of them.

But now it's taken one of the rockets that it landed previous year and launched and landed it again. He says the need to assemble a new rocket for each launch is a key reason spaceflight costs remain astronomically high, which in turn prevents consumer demand from developing a market that can bring economies of scale to rocketry. Back in 2013, it was the first company to launch a commercial satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket. "It's really a great day not only for SpaceX but the space industry as a whole in proving that something could be done that many people said was impossible", said Musk. But the life of re-used boosters, the most expensive part of the rocket, is unknown. "This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight", he said.

Following a launch, the rocket core is rigorously inspected and tested to ensure there is no damage.

Not so for the bottom halves of most 229-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) Falcon 9 rockets.

After successfully launching a satellite toward geosynchronous orbit - 22,000 miles into space - the rocket then returned to Earth and landed on a remotely piloted platform, known as a droneship, in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX granted SES insight into the entire process of getting the booster ready to fly again, Halliwell said, providing confidence everything would go well.

In a first, SpaceX is set to launch a commercial communications satellite using a first-stage rocket booster that previously flew last year.

The rocket booster that was launched on Thursday, however, will be donated to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for display, he said.

Mr Musk said he hopes the privately funded flight - the first ever to travel beyond the International Space Station - will happen in late 2018. Other space agencies have estimated one would need to fly 30 to 50 rockets annually before seeing a substantial impact to the bottom line.

  • Zachary Reyes