SpaceX flew a previously used rocket on Thursday in an unprecedented test of the durability of space equipment.
The Falcon 9 booster took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and landed on an ocean platform called Of Course I Still Love You. The aerospace company founded by Elon Musk said it was the “world’s first reflight of an orbital class rocket.”
The Atlantic Ocean landing took place about eight minutes after takeoff.
If such rockets can be used more than once, the cost of orbital flights by SpaceX (and others) could be vastly reduced. The multimillion-dollar boosters had been treated as disposable products after falling from rockets after the first stage of a flight.
The Falcon 9 booster was previously used in April 2016. Thursday’s launch was part of a mission to put a telecommunications satellite into orbit, Reuters reported.
SpaceX has previously shown it can land a booster on a platform. The company first accomplished that feat in December 2015 when it landed its intact booster at Cape Canaveral, Florida. It has repeated the accomplishment eight times, Reuters said.
Musk challenged his company to further display its skill by next launching a rocket twice in the span of one day.
A webcast of Thursday’s flight is available on SpaceX’s website.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated that Thursday’s flight marked the second time SpaceX had landed a booster. The company has repeated the feat eight times, according to Reuters.