rocket taking off

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SpaceX's reusable rockets could provide a cheaper path to orbit

They did it: Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company SpaceX last night successfully sent a gently used rocket back into orbit for another go-round. It’s the first time that the same rocket, a Falcon 9 that made a trip to the International Space Station last year, has been launched twice, CNN reports. The rocket headed into geosynchronous orbit—about 35,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface—to deliver a communications satellite for Luxembourg-based SES. The spacecraft then returned to Earth, landing daintily on one of SpaceX’s two spaceport drone ships (the one called, appropriately enough, “Of Course I Still Love You”). The success of the private company’s reusable rockets could be a game-changer for space exploration and weather forecasting: With a price tag of about $62 million per rocket, reuse can dramatically bring down the costs of a launch. That could make inexpensive pocket-sized satellites called CubeSats easier and cheaper to launch, as Science has previously reported. 

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