It was the first time SpaceX founder Elon Musk had tried to fly a booster that had flown before on an orbital mission.
SpaceX successfully launched a communications satellite for a telecom giant into orbit with a reused rocket booster Thursday.
Following a successful main engine cutoff and first stage separation, Falcon 9's 14-story reusable core returned to Earth and landed on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship that was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Once it landed after its initial flight, the first-stage booster traveled via ground transport to Florida for refurbishment before heading to SpaceX's McGregor, Texas, development facility for testing and then, finally, the launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX officials said a typical launch costs $62 million, but that only about 4 percent of that figure, about $300,000, is for the fuel. And it's not as if the Falcon 9 rockets are ready to fly again as soon as they land.
SpaceX still has a backlog of launches it has to get through, and if costs fall further, there could very well be more private and public sector clients knocking at its door, or seeking out its competitors.
Following the launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk congratulated his company for their historic achievement. That means most of the rest of the cost is in the actual vehicle, which, if reused multiple times, can bring the launch costs down. He went on to call it an "incredible milestone in the history of space" and predicted, that it would be "a huge revolution in spaceflight".
The rocket was recovered, reconditioned and reloaded for its second launch, which happened at 3:27 p.m. PT Thursday.
The latest liftoff was their fourth of 2017, and the recovery of the Falcon 9 marked the ninth time that SpaceX was able to salvage a booster.
"We made a little bit of history today. opened the door into a whole new era of spaceflight", said Martin Halliwell, the chief technology officer for SES, calling it "a big step for everybody - something that's never, ever been done before". "Flight proven", Musk quickly added, his preferred term.
The company is getting pretty good at returning rockets to Earth: After 13 attempts in recent years, the company has stuck eight of them.