SpaceX launches first recycled rocket in cost-cutting test

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. USA space firm SpaceX is attempting to make history on Thursday with the first launch of an already-used Falcon 9 rocket into space.

The booster's main section then separated from the rest of the rocket and flew itself back to a landing pad in the Atlantic, where it successfully touched down for its second return. "The first reflight of an orbital class booster did its mission perfectly, dropped off the second stage, came back and landed on the droneship, right in the bullseye".

Falcon 9 launch, image courtesy of SpaceX.

Some had told Musk prior to his project that reusable rockets could not be achieved and so he said it was an "incredible milestone in the history of space" - and could help one day put humanity "out there among the stars".

The rocket SpaceX will use Thursday first flew in an April 2016 mission to the International Space Station. Elon Musk had earlier said that he expected to see Falcon 9s capable of making 10 to 20 flights.

Elon Musk's private space company is set to launch a satellite for Luxembourg-based communications company SES at 6:27 p.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first such Falcon 9 landing attempt that didn't end in a spectacular explosion.

"It's been 15 years to get to this point". If you can use it multiple times, Shotwell said, the cost of each launch comes down. The rocket booster landed on a drone ship a year ago as part of a previous mission.

This week's achievement will be a huge boost for the SpaceX team following a hard period toward the end of 2016 when one of its rockets exploded on the launchpad. On Thursday, the company made history by reusing that booster in launching another payload into orbit.

But Musk said his company has so far spent about $1 billion to develop reusability for the launch booster, the most expensive part of the rocket. Shotwell says this latest version is being created to re-launch multiple times.

  • Carolyn Briggs