Countdown to SpaceX's first-ever launch of a used rocket

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"It shows you can fly and refly an orbit-class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket", Musk said on a SpaceX webcast.

The Falcon 9 lifted off out of Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, carrying communication satellites for its SES-10 mission. At the top of the 23-story rocket was SES-10, a communications satellite which will enable Luxembourg-based SES SA to improve delivery of television, internet and other services to Latin America.

After successfully launching a satellite toward geosynchronous orbit - 22,000 miles into space - the rocket then returned to Earth and landed on a remotely piloted platform, known as a droneship, in the Atlantic Ocean. For the first time ever, SpaceX has launched and landed a rocket that had flown to space before.

The first successful relaunch of an orbital rocket.

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Reusable rockets would cut the cost of space travel significantly.

For its 33rd mission, SpaceX is reusing a Falcon 9 booster that was the first to make a successful return landing in the ocean. By recycling rockets - each rocket can cost hundreds of millions of dollars - SpaceX disrupts the traditional aerospace industry which has, until recently, been accustomed to single-use rockets. That, of course, would be ridiculous, which is his point - being able to reuse rockets dramatically reduces the cost of space travel, which is how SpaceX plans to eventually be able to succeed in not only business, but in making humans an interplanetary species.

Some had told Musk prior to his project that reusable rockets could not be achieved and so he said it was an "incredible milestone in the history of space" - and could help one day put humanity "out there among the stars". As Musk has noted, the New Shepard went out into "space" whereas the Falcon 9 delivers payloads into "orbit", which requires 100 times the energy. Four previous SpaceX at-sea landing attempts failed. The company's long-term goal under founder Musk is to fly people to and from Mars. Interestingly, the same floating barge that was used to recover the rocket for the first time, was used this time around as well.

"We don't believe we're taking an inordinate risk here", said Halliwell, noting that the rocket is in sufficiently good shape that its launch insurance rates did not increase.