On Monday, SpaceX, the private spaceflight company founded by Elon Musk, launched and landed one of its Falcon 9 rockets for the third time, marking the first time in SpaceX's history that they've managed to fly the same rocket booster on three separate missions.
The rocket took flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:34 p.m. ET. This Falcon 9 had previously flown two communications satellites to orbit on two different missions.
The experienced booster then came in for a picture-perfect landing on a drone ship stationed in the Pacific Ocean. Before landing, however, the booster helped deliver 64 small satellites to orbit for a variety of companies.
Usually, these kinds of small satellites would fly to space as secondary payloads aboard a rocket with a larger space mission of some kind, but these 64 satellites got their own rides to space on a reusable rocket.
According to SpaceX, this kind of reusability is the future of spaceflight. The company hopes that the first stages of the Falcon 9 rocket will be able to fly to space and back at least 10 times, all in the name of reducing the cost of accessing space.
Instead of just using one rocket for one mission, like traditional launch providers, SpaceX wants to refurbish and reuse their rockets to make it cheaper to fly to space in the first place.
And this third flight of a Falcon booster is a good step toward that goal.