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SpaceX Launches and Lands Used Rocket, Making Aerospace History

Technology By
SES-10 Launch, the world's first reflight of an orbital class rocket. (Spacex)
SES-10 Launch, the world’s first reflight of an orbital class rocket. (Spacex)


If last night’s SpaceX launch looked familiar, there’s no need for a vision check-up. The private company made aerospace history by launching and landing the first used rocket—an event years in the making.

The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and then deployed the SES-10 satellite into orbit. It later returned to Earth, landing on SpaceX’s “Of Course, I Still Love You” drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX first used the Falcon 9 rocket involved in this mission in April last year, but the company’s been working towards this milestone since 2011, The Verge reports. Shortly after the landing, company founder Elon Musk appeared on the SpaceX livestream to comment on the momentous occasion. “It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight,” he said.

Before this, orbital rockets were built to be expendable and were thrown away after each use—wasting hundreds of millions of dollars. Reusing rockets is part of SpaceX strategy to cut manufacturing costs. The company plans to launch up to 6 used rockets in 2017.