| CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket recovered at sea from its maiden flight last year blasted off again from Florida on Thursday in the first successful launch of a recycled orbital-class booster, then capped the feat with another return landing on an ocean platform.
The unprecedented twin achievements of re-launching a used rocket and salvaging the vehicle yet again were hailed by billionaire SpaceX founder Elon Musk as a revolutionary step in his quest to slash launch costs and shorten intervals between space shots.
“This is a huge day,” Musk told reporters after the launch. “My mind’s blown.”
It took Space Exploration Technologies Corp, as the California-based company is formally known, 15 years to demonstrate that a rocket typically discarded in the ocean after a single flight could be recovered and reused.
The SpaceX chief executive said his next goal is to turn the booster around for relaunch in 24 hours, a milestone he said could be accomplished before the end of the 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,” he said.
The Falcon 9 booster, which previously flew in April 2016, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center at 6:27 p.m. EDT (2227 GMT) to put a communications satellite into orbit for Luxembourg-based SES SA SESFg.LU.
The booster’s main section then separated from the rest of the rocket and flew itself back to a landing pad in the Atlantic, where it successfully touched down for its second at-sea return.
“We made a little bit of history today … opened the door into a whole new era of spaceflight,” said Martin Halliwell the chief technology officer for SES, who joined Musk at the news conference.
SpaceX landed an orbital rocket after…