SpaceX launches and lands its first reused rocket

The refurbished booster section of a Falcon 9 safely touched down on a ship in the Atlantic

March 30 landing of Falcon 9 rocket

RECYCLED ROCKET  A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean after blasting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, March 30. This stage of the rocket has flown before, marking the first time the company has reused one of its reclaimed boosters.

SpaceX/YouTube

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.

Emily DeMarco

Emily DeMarco is the deputy news editor. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Furman University and a master of environmental science and management from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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