Watch SpaceX Land First Ever Recycled Rocket

spacex rocket landing elon musk
The reusable main-stage booster from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket makes a successful landing on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean about 185 miles (300 km) off the coast of Florida April 8, 2016 in this handout photo provided by SpaceX. REUTERS/SpaceX/Handout

SpaceX has made aerospace history after successfully launching and landing a recycled rocket, marking a critical milestone in substantially reducing the cost of space access.

The main segment of its Falcon 9 rocket was previously used on a mission in 2016. Rather than discarding it during the ascent, SpaceX landed it on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean and refurbished it in order to reuse it for Thursday’s mission to send a telecommunications satellite into orbit.

“The first reflight of an orbital class booster did its mission perfectly, dropped off the second stage, came back and landed on the drone ship, right on the bullseye,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said during a livestream of the event in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“It’s an amazing day for space as a whole, for the space industry. It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket.”

Reusability is a key factor in making space flight more affordable and ultimately achieving Musk’s goal of making humans a multiplanetary species. The majority of the launch cost comes from building the rocket, which until now could only fly once.

Musk said the achievement was similar to the difference between commercial airliners being disposable or reusable.

“It’s been 15 years to get to this point. It’s taken us a long time,” Musk said. “It’s really a great day, not just for SpaceX but for the space industry as a whole and proving something can be done when many people said it was impossible.”

Luxembourg satellite operator SES, whose SES-10 satellite was launched by the Falcon 9 rocket, said long waits between launch times have previously hindered its company’s development and progress.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer of SES, said in a statement. “If we can get reliable re-usability then we will get better management of the manifest.

"We made a little bit of history today, actually. We just opened the door to a whole new era of spaceflight.”

Other private space firms are also working on recyclable rockets, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The Amazon founder has launched and landed a suborbital rocket five times but is yet to reuse any of them.