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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches and gets recovered for the second time

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches and gets recovered for the second time”

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket recovered at sea from its maiden flight previous year blasted off again from Florida on Thursday in the first successful launch of a recycled orbital-class booster, which scored a double feat with another return landing on an ocean platform.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has just accomplished something no other space agency on the planet has: it successfully re-launched one of its Falcon 9 rockets into orbit and had it return to Earth safely.

SpaceX has said reusing rockets could lower launch costs by 30 per cent of the US$62 million starting price the company now charges, which is already a discount over competitors' prices. Tonight's mission will also attempt to land the Falcon 9 on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship.

"This is an unbelievable day for space as a whole", said Musk post-landing, "for the space industry it means you can fly and re-fly an orbital class booster, the most expensive part of the rocket". The aerospace company founded by Elon Musk said it was the "world's first reflight of an orbital class rocket".

The Falcon 9 rocket was first used in April 2016 for another commercial satellite launch.

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The two-stage rocket, in its Full Thrust version, will carry the SES-10 communication satellite into orbit, which will provide television services to Central and South America, along with the Caribbean.

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. This is SpaceX's ninth successful landing and a huge milestone in space exploration.

Traditionally, rockets are scrapped after only one flight - but SpaceX has now achieved one of its long-term goals in successfully reusing one. Not just for SpaceX, but for the space industry as a whole. SpaceX is hoping the boosters can be re-used as many as 10 or 15 times.

Should SpaceX continue to prove that it can consistently fly and refly rockets, it could cut down the price of spaceflight by an order of magnitude. The majority of the launch cost comes from building the rocket, which until now could only fly once. The latest flight brings to 65 the number of SES satellites in orbit, with nine more slated for launch this year. Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, for example, has re-flown rockets at not-quite-outer-space altitude for testing purposes.



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