CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rocketed off a seaside launching pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center here on March 30, 2017 on an unprecedented second mission to deliver a spacecraft into orbit, proving the booster's reusability.
The two-stage, 23-story-tall rocket lifted off at 6: 27 pm. EDT (22:27 GMT) in the second launch within two weeks for Elon Musk's SpaceX, which is ramping up its trip rate following an incident in September last year.
Perched on top of the skyrocket, which sported a brand new high stage and payload fairing, was the 5, 282 kilograms SES-10 communications satellite, which is supposed to provide TV , internet and other services to customers in Asian America.
"This is a really, really exciting step forwards, " Martin Halliwell, key technology officer of Luxembourg-based SES, said before kick off. "I think the full industry is looking. "
The rocket's first stage recently lifted off in Apr 2016, sending SpaceX's automatic Dragon cargo ship arriving to the International Space Station for NASA. The booster then landed using one of SpaceX's robotic "drone ships" in the marine and was refurbished for reflight, a key aspect of Musk's goal to cut launch costs.
The Falcon 9 first level aced its landing again tonight, settling softly on the deck of the drone ship "Of Training course I Still Love You. "
"It's an incredible day for... the space industry, " Musk said right after the rocket touched down. "It means you can fly and refly an orbit-class booster, which is considered the most expensive part of the rocket. This is certainly going to be finally a huge revolution in spaceflight.
SpaceX also successfully retrieved the Falcon 9's payload fairing -- the nasal area cone that protected SES-10 during liftoff -- Spray revealed during a post-launch teleconference with reporters. The $6 million fairing achieved its own soft touchdown in the Atlantic Water using an onboard thruster system and a parachute, Musk said.
"That was definitely the cherry on the cake, " this individual said, adding that SpaceX intends to re-fly payload fairings just as it does Falcon 9 first stages.
SpaceX has launched and landed Falcon dokuz first stages nine different times. Six of such touchdowns have occurred on drone ships, and three got place on terra firma at Cape Canaveral. (SpaceX would ideally like to bring all its booster accessories back on land, Spray has said, sometimes tasks use so much energy on the ascent stage that ocean touchdowns are essential. )