In more than two years of rocket launching and landing, this is the first time that SpaceX was able to successfully send a used Falcon 9 back into space and land it back here on the Atlantic Ocean. This successful rocket launch marks the first time an orbital rocket has gone to space for the second time around. The Falcon 9 took off at Cape Canaveral, Florida and landed on a SpaceX drone ship floating on the ocean.
Elon Musk, the company's CEO, made an appearance on SpaceX's live stream shortly after the successful landing and talked about the new milestone. He said that this project made it clear that "you can fly and refly and orbital class booster", which, as he describes, is the most expensive rocket part. Musk also said that this will be a massive achievement in spaceflight.
This successful SpaceX mission is a critical one for the company, who, since 2011, has been working hard to make its rocket partially reusable. Up until the current accomplishment, SpaceX's rockets have been expendable, as per The Verge. This means that they are practically disposed once they have been launched into space. With that said, an entirely new rocket has to be built for each and every mission, costing up to hundreds of millions worth of dollars. It's worth noting that the Falcon 9 itself is worth $62 million, as per CNN.
Nevertheless, SpaceX does not save the entire Falcon 9 after each launch. What it saves is the first stage or the 14-story core of the rocket which housed the main engines and most of the fuel needed. After takeoff, this stage separates from the top and makes a controlled landing back to Earth. With the latest SpaceX achievement, the company has proven that part of a used Falcon 9 can go back to space after the first time. Additionally, with the vehicle being able to return back here in one piece, it would also mean that the rocket is also poised to do a third launch.