SpaceX just checked off another item on its bucket list on Thursday night. At just after 6:20 PM ET, the private spaceflight company successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a first stage that had previously flown before, a first for any rocket in the history of spaceflight. As an added bonus, SpaceX returned it to Earth, landing it upright on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, a maneuver the company has completed several times now.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Elon Musk said, shortly after the rocket stage touched down safely.
The rocket carried a commercial communications satellite built by SES, a satellite operator in Luxembourg. It blasted off from Cape Canaveral’s launchpad 39A, the historic site of Apollo and space shuttle launches, which SpaceX leases from NASA.
SpaceX has spent years developing a reusable first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, the 14-story-tall booster that contains most of rocket’s …