It marks an important milestone for SpaceX in its quest for re-usability.
Traditionally, rockets are expendable – their various segments are discarded and destroyed during an ascent.
The California outfit, in contrast, aims to recover Falcon first-stages and fly them multiple times to try to reduce the cost of its operations.
And to emphasize this point, Thursday’s booster was also brought back under control to land on a barge stationed out in the Atlantic.
Incredibly proud of the SpaceX team for achieving this milestone in space! Next goal is reflight within 24 hours.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2017
Falcon 9 first stage has landed on Of Course I Still Love You — world’s first reflight of an orbital class rocket.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 30, 2017
Spacex is already a low cost space launch leader. Reusing rocket stages could massively lower the cost of space access.
SpaceX predicts that using recycled first stages could eventually reduce the cost of a launch by about 30 percent, from $60 million to $40 million, but for now it plans to offer only a 10-percent discount to customers who buy launches with reused stages.