In a spaceflight first, the aerospace company SpaceX has successfully launched and landed a previously used rocket.
The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off March 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Flight Center in Florida at 6:27 p.m. EDT carrying a commercial telecommunications satellite. After separating from the rest of the rocket and its payload, the refurbished first stage of the rocket touched back down smoothly on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean. The stage is the same one SpaceX used in its first successful landing on an ocean barge in April 2016.
Although the aerospace company has recovered eight Falcon 9 rockets after previous launches, this homecoming marks the first time it has reflown one of those used boosters. In September, a Falcon 9 rocket and its payload exploded on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral during a routine test.
In the past, the spent first stages of rockets have been lost to the ocean. Capturing and reusing rockets may lead to cheaper spaceflights, the company says.