SpaceX debut of recycled rocket and new launch pad

SpaceX debut of recycled rocket and new launch pad

Notably, the mission marked SpaceX's long-awaited return to Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex-40 since the company lost a Falcon 9 in a spectacular explosion last September.

The launch was delayed from December 5 to this past Tuesday, then again to Wednesday, and again to today.

"Taking additional time for the team to conduct full inspections and cleanings due to detection of particles in 2nd stage fuel system", the company announced via Twitter on Tuesday.

The mission, which was delayed from its original target date of December 12 after the SpaceX team made a decision to take more time to verify proper operation of its second stage full system, took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at SpaceX's newly refurbished SLC-40 in Florida at 10:36 AM EST.

"That marks the second successful visit to and from space for this particular booster", said a SpaceX commentator on the SpaceX webcast of the launch.

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SpaceX director Jessica Jensen says both the rocket and space craft are "flight proven", but the launch pad is brand new.

The mission is SpaceX's 13th of 20 under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. It also means this booster could potentially get a third use, after originally having launched during the CRS-11 mission this past June. It was used in a resupply mission flown in April 2015. The rocket was a SpaceX Falcon 9, and the cargo vehicle was a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

SpaceX has been working to flawless the process of reusing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets as a major cost-savings tool.

SpaceX says the ability to reuse rockets is key to its future business goal of sending thousands of people into space and driving down the cost of space travel overall.

The first time NASA experimented with re-using a spacecraft was long before the Space Shuttle, way back in 1966.

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