A booster shot: SpaceX uses a re­cy­cled rocket

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

SpaceX launched its first re­cy­cled rocket Thurs­day, the big­gest leap yet in its bid to drive down costs and speed up flights.

The Fal­con 9 blasted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Cen­ter, hoist­ing a broad­cast­ing satel­lite into the early- evening clear sky on the his­toric rocket re­flight.

It was the first time SpaceX founder Elon Musk tried to fly a booster that soared be­fore on an or­bital mis­sion. He was at a loss for words af­ter the booster landed on the bull’s- eye of the ocean plat­form fol­low­ing liftoff, just off the east Florida coast.

This par­tic­u­lar first stage landed on an ocean plat­form al­most ex­actly a year ago af­ter a space sta­tion launch for NASA. SpaceX re­fur­bished and tested the 15- foot booster, still sport­ing its nine orig­i­nal en­gines. It nailed an­other ver­ti­cal land­ing at sea Thurs­day once it­was fin­ished boost­ing the satel­lite for the SES com­pany of Lux­em­bourg.

Long­time cus­tomer SES got a dis­count for agree­ing to use a sal­vaged rocket but wouldn’t say how­much. It’s not just about the sav­ings, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Martin Hal­li­well said.

He called it “a big step for ev­ery­body— some­thing that’s never, ever been done be­fore.”

SpaceX granted SES in­sight into the en­tire process of get­ting the booster ready to fly again, Hal­li­well said, pro­vid­ing con­fi­dence every­thing would go well. SES, in fact, is con­sid­er­ing more launches later this year on reused Fal­con boost­ers.

Boost­ers typ­i­cally are dis­carded af­ter liftoff, sink­ing into the Atlantic.

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