In Depth

SpaceX successfully launches used rocket into orbit

Chief executive Elon Musk hails 'a huge revolution in spaceflight'

SpaceX has celebrated "a huge revolution in spaceflight" with the successful launch and flight of a pre-used Falcon 9 rocket, says chief executive Elon Musk. 

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The "stage one" orbital booster, previously used on a mission 11 months ago, helped send a telecommunications satellite into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida before successfully landing again.

Musk said: "It's an amazing day for space as a whole. It means you can fly and re-fly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket."

He added: "It's a great day not just for SpaceX, but for the space industry as a whole, proving that something can be done that many people said was impossible."

Launching the used Falcon 9 rocket "was a critical milestone for SpaceX", says The Verge, adding that the company "has been working to make its rockets partially reusable since as early as 2011". 

Until now, orbital rockets could only be launched into orbit once. Re-using rockets will save on manufacturing costs.

Once the rocket is ready to leave Earth's orbit, says the BBC, "the segments autonomously guide themselves back to the floating platform or a coastal pad to make propulsive landings". 

Nasa's space shuttle was "partially reusable", but "the complexities of servicing the shuttle system after every flight swamped any savings", adds the broadcaster.

Musk now has eyes on the next prize, tweeting that the next target is "re-flight within 24 hours". 

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