San Francisco — Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which has championed re-usability in space flight, successfully launched a previously used rocket and a recycled cargo capsule during the same mission for the first time on Friday.

The launch, SpaceX’s 17th this year, took off on Friday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying about 2,400kg of research, crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station. Known as CRS-13, the mission will deliver critical cargo to and from the orbiting lab for Nasa, the company said.

SpaceX landed the rocket’s first stage on land for re-use in a future launch. Once derided as a crazy idea, re-usability in space flight is now seen as key to making launches affordable.

The mission was the first in more than a year from Space Launch Complex 40, the Florida pad that suffered significant damage when a Falcon 9 rocket exploded there in September 2016. SpaceX’s $50m refurbishment of the damaged site will allow the company to further ramp up its launch cadence in 2018.

SpaceX had delayed the mission to conduct additional checks, inspections and cleanings after it detected particles in one of its rocket’s fueling systems.


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