SpaceX successfully launches first recycled rocket into orbit

SpaceX has long said it would like to make its entire Falcon 9 rocket reusable.

After sending the SES-10 satellite on its way to orbit, the rocket's first-stage will turn around and attempt to land itself on an ocean platform. It is now planning to take its launch process to the next level by re-using one of those rockets for the first time. By recycling rockets - each rocket can cost hundreds of millions of dollars - SpaceX disrupts the traditional aerospace industry which has, until recently, been accustomed to single-use rockets.

"It's an awesome day I think for space as a whole", Musk said after the landing.

SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday that, in a first for the company, features a first stage that was used on a previous flight.

"This is going to be ultimately a huge revolution in spaceflight", Musk continued.

For its 33rd mission, SpaceX is reusing a Falcon 9 booster that originally flew in April 2016.

The ability to reuse rockets is key to making space travel more affordable.

The Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral has flown before. After that flight, the rocket's first stage was successfully piloted back to SpaceX's floating barge, whimsically named "Of Course I Still Love You".

The Atlantic Ocean landing took place about eight minutes after takeoff. Halliwell declined to say how much Thursday's launch cost.

SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to re-enter a spacecraft from Earth orbit. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos has also been keeping a lower profile, launching and landing his New Shepard rocket at least five times as the company prepares for a future goal of taking tourists to space.

The SES satellite launched Thursday is expected to boost communications capacity across Latin America, "ranging from the Gulf of California in Mexico to Cape Horn in Chile", according to SpaceX. If the first stages can be routinely reused, with no refurbishment between missions, then the cost to launch could be reduced on the order of a hundred-fold, said Musk.

  • Zachary Reyes