SpaceX launches first recycled rocket in test of cost-cutting model

SpaceX set to launch its first recycled rocket

SpaceX set to launch its first recycled rocket

The rocket's first stage, or booster, was previously used to propel an unmanned Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station in April 2016 before it successfully landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX launched a private communications satellite Thursday evening in what the company said is the first time an orbital space rocket has been used for multiple flights.

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.

Today's successful landing of the refurbished Falcon 9 marks the second time the rocket has seen use. With each Falcon 9 launch carrying a $61 million price tag, the reused rockets are expected to decrease expenses by about 30 percent, according to Agence French-Presse.

SpaceX now lists the cost of a launch at $62 million, though it's unclear how much SES is paying for Thursday's pioneering launch - customers have non-disclosure agreements with SpaceX, and the price tag differs according to each customer's needs.

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

Chinese president Xi Jinping arrives in USA for talks with Donald Trump
For him, as for many here, the military option that the Trump administration said remains "on the table" is unthinkable. Trump wants China's help ending North Korea's testing of nuclear weapons.

If the scheduled Thursday afternoon flight is successful, it could mean lower launch costs for the Hawthorne-based space company and a potential new era of cheap space flight.

Moments after the landing, an obviously-elated SpaceX founder Elon Musk hailed at as a big day for the space industry, "proving that something that can be done that many people said was impossible". "This is going to be ultimately a huge revolution in spaceflight".

Traditionally, rockets are scrapped after only one flight - but SpaceX has now achieved one of its long-term goals in successfully reusing one. The rocket booster landed on a drone ship past year as part of a previous mission.

And Musk already has his eyes on the next prize.

All these attempts were aimed at producing a fully and rapidly reusable rocket, which allegedly will dramatically reduce the cost of space transport. Interestingly, the same floating barge that was used to recover the rocket for the first time, was used this time around as well.

"You've got to get away from the idea that it's secondhand", said SES chief technology officer Martin Halliwell.

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