Elon Musk's SpaceX reached a milestone in reusability yesterday when it successfully relaunched a segment of one of its Falcon 9rockets.
While the private company has not disclosed how much discount SES got for launching on a used rocket, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell has said reusable rockets could eventually cut launch prices by 30 percent.
After liftoff, the flight proven the first stage will attempt to again land on the company's "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, which is usually stationed several hundred miles off the coast of Florida.
"It's an awesome day for space", said Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, according to Space News.
In a first, SpaceX is set to launch a commercial communications satellite using a first-stage rocket booster that previously flew last year.
Musk said his California-based company's next goal in the burgeoning commercial space industry will be to turn around a salvaged rocket booster for re-launch within 24 hours, and to do so by the end of this year.
SpaceX successfully launched and then retrieved its first recycled rocket Thursday, a historic feat and the biggest leap yet in its bid to drive down costs and speed up flights. But more importantly, it'll gain the company a lot more customers - Musk said that many firms were waiting for the outcome of the launch before agreeing to fly on a recycled rocket.
The rocket took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:30 p.m. on March 30.
The satellite - called SES-10 - is meant to provide TV, radio, telephone, and internet coverage for South America.
SpaceX had made multiple efforts to successfully recover the booster rocket but had multiple failures.
Following a launch, the rocket core is rigorously inspected and tested to ensure there is no damage. The first stage landed on an ocean platform nearly a year ago after a launch for NASA.
SpaceX was also able to retrieve Falcon 9's payload fairing, which is the nose cone that protects the SES-10 at the time of takeoff. It is now planning to take its launch process to the next level by re-using one of those rockets for the first time.
The 23-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket involved in Thursday's launch previously delivered the CRS-8 satellite into orbit last April.
The $6 million revamped rocket landed in the Atlantic Ocean with the help of a parachute and an onboard thruster system. "It's been 15 years to get to this point", Musk said.
Obviously, she said, that requires developing rockets that can launch a couple of times.
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