SpaceX launches first recycled rocket booster

SpaceX launches first recycled rocket booster

While the second stage of the rocket is now created to fall to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere, for several years SpaceX has been developing the ability to gently land the first stage vertically either on a pad near the launch facility or on platforms floating in the ocean several hundred miles from the launch site. SpaceX pulled off this feat with a reused Falcon 9 stage on Thursday, a first for an orbital-stage rocket.

While the company has already proved that it cannot only land the first stage, or booster, of Falcon 9 but can also reuse it, there is much more cost savings involved if it can manage to bring back the Falcon 9 Heavy second stage.

"We just had an incredible day today", SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said during a live webcast of the launch.

The first successful land-based landing occurred on December 22, 2015, at LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, while the first landing on a barge-like ship occurred in the Atlantic on April 8, 2016.

SpaceX has been trying to bring its rockets back to the Earth for a few years with the probability of success standing at 8 out of 13; so, odds are fairly in his Mr Musk's favour.

On Thursday, SpaceX successfully launched a previously-used rocket, a historic first that puts the company firmly on the path towards its promise of low-priced space flight.

The rocket launched from Florida and then returned on a platform in the ocean.

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

He added that his team were also working on recovering the second "booster" stage, which now burns up in the atmosphere.

Given this, the only part of the Falcon 9 that isn't being recovered is the smaller second stage. And it also goes down if the objective is to reuse the rocket.

He said it is also a crucial part of his plan to one day establish human colonies on Mars. If that wasn't enough, Musk even plans to launch two private citizens, who paid "significant deposits", on a recreational trip around the moon in late 2018. Combined with the nose cone, that's about 84 percent in savings of the original costs of the launch (fuel costs notwithstanding).

SES confirmed that the launch had successfully deployed its satellite, and congratulated SpaceX on sticking the landing of the rocket. To prove this, he revealed that the very first Dragon flight was literally cheesy.

Longtime customer SES got a discount for agreeing to use a salvaged rocket, but wouldn't say how much.

"At first it sounded easy: We'll just take two first stages and use them as strap-on boosters", Musk said.

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