The development is an important milestone that underscores humanity’s strive to being a space-faring civilisation.
In a development that is significant for Elon Musk’s space venture, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket which having accomplished its mission was recovered at sea, was once again successfully launched into orbit.
The unprecedented achievements are seen as a revolutionary step to slash launch costs and shorten intervals between space launches.
“This is a huge day,” said Musk after the launch. “My mind’s blown.”
It has taken the California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp, (SpaceX), 15 years to demonstrate this reusability concept: a rocket that is typically discarded in the ocean after a single flight can be recovered and reused.
Musk has stated the company’s next goal is to reduce the time taken for a relaunch to within 24 hours. He expects this milestone to be accomplished by before the end of this year.
“The potential is there for (an) over 100-fold reduction in the cost of access to space. If we can achieve that, it means humanity can become a space-faring civilization and be out there among the stars. This is what we want for the future,” said Musk.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 6:27 p.m. EDT, 2227 GMT, in order to place a communications satellite for Luxembourg-based SES SA into orbit.
“We made a little bit of history today … opened the door into a whole new era of spaceflight,” said Martin Halliwell, SES’ chief technology officer who joined Musk at the news conference.
In December 2015, for the first time in the company’s history, SpaceX landed an orbital rocket in an ocean platform, for reusability. It has gained a certain mastery in this area and has repeated the feat 8 times.
By reusing the rockets SpaceX aims to cut costs by as much as 30% from its $62 million cost per launch.
SpaceX has not yet disclosed the price of launching a recycled rocket. However, not all of the savings will be passed on to SpaceX customers, many of whom have been waiting for the outcome of yesterday’s launch, said Musk.
Musk went on to add, SpaceX has spent at least $1 billion on developing the technology to fly and reuse rockets and it aims to recoup the investment in the coming years.
The boosters are expected to fly at least 10 times without being refurbished and nearly 100 times with moderate reconditioning, said Musk.
However, the rockets used on Thursday’s launch will be donated to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for display, said Musk.