MIAMI (AFP) – SpaceX on Wednesday launched a rocket that had already flown to space and landed it successfully on an ocean platform, as part of its ongoing effort to recycle costly rocket components.
On a clear autumn evening at 6:53 pm (2253 GMT), the tall, white Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying the Echostar 105/SES-11 satellite.
“Couldn t be more perfect weather for a launch,” said a commentator on SpaceX s live webcast.
The satellite aims to provide television coverage and communications capabilities to North America, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.
It is a “dual-mission” satellite for the US-based operator EchoStar and Luxembourg-based operator SES.
About 10 minutes after launch, the tall portion of the rocket, known as the first stage, returned to Earth for a controlled, upright landing on a droneship called “Of Course I Still Love You,” stationed in the Atlantic.
The Falcon 9 rocket “is currently standing on the deck,” said the SpaceX commentator, as video images showed the smoking rocket securely parked on the platform.
“Yet another successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage,” he added.
“This is our 18th successful landing.”
The Falcon 9 s first stage which launched Wednesday had previously flown on a cargo mission to the International Space Station in February.
SpaceX flew a recycled rocket component for the first time in March of this year.
Wednesday s launch was its “third successful mission with a flight-proven orbital class rocket,” SpaceX said on Twitter.
The effort is part of CEO Elon Musk s broader vision of making spaceflight more affordable and enabling easier, more economical rocket travel, both from city to city on Earth and eventually to deep space.