SpaceX's Historic Launch Proves Recycled Rockets Are the Future of Space Exploration

James Marshall
April 1, 2017

After working for 15 years to develop a rocket that can be used multiple times to launch satellites into space, they have proven they indeed have a truly reusable launch vehicle.

Though the US Space Shuttles returned to space many times, as has the secret unmanned US Air Force X-37B, this is the first time that a ballistic rocket has ever flown on an orbital mission, returned to Earth, then flown again on a later orbital mission.

SpaceX is planning to re-launch and re-land the rocket from the CRS 8 mission, which blasted off in April of past year to carry roughly 7,000 pounds (3175kg) of cargo to the ISS before successfully landing on a floating drone ship.

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

The company confirmed to CNNMoney in August that its client for this trip received a discount on the Falcon 9 sticker price, but it declined to say by how much. Martin Halliwell of SES calls it a "big step" for everyone. SpaceX began flying back the Falcon's first-stage, kerosene-fueled boosters in 2015; it's since landed eight boosters, three at Cape Canaveral and five on ocean platforms - actually, six times at sea counting Thursday's redo. The rocket carried a communications satellite to orbit that will provide service to Latin America. "Just opened the door into a whole new era of spaceflight". It has been refurbished and refueled, and the launch vehicle is ready to loft the SES-10 communications satellite to a geosynchronous orbit. During the space shuttle program, the twin booster rockets dropped away two minutes into flight and parachuted into the Atlantic for recovery. "They will also allow a higher launch frequency, which will definitely bring a new agility and competitive edge to the satellite industry". To Elon Musk, who founded the company in 2002, it's the first step to colonizing Mars, but on Thursday, he paused for a rare moment of reflection. SES had special access; the satellite provider, after all, has a long history with SpaceX.

SpaceX has always stressed upon reusable rockets as a key factor in its operations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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