Elon Musk's SpaceX launches its third refurbished rocket this year

SpaceX  YouTube

The latest Falcon 9 rocket launch marks the third time when the company has successfully launched and landed a rocket that had already flown.

The SES-11 satellite, built by Airbus and operated by Colorado-based EchoStar Corp., will replace old satellite technology. The landing was a success for SpaceX's ongoing effort to re-use expensive rocket parts instead of jettisoning them into the ocean after launch.

The preflown rocket booster that lifted the satellite and the upper-stage rocket carrying it outside Earth's atmosphere blasted off at 3:53 p.m. PDT from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. EchoStar-105/SES-11 separated from the rocket's upper stage roughly 36 minutes into the mission as planned. That first stage also was recovered. About seven minutes after launch, the tall portion of the Falcon 9, known as the first stage, returned to Earth for an upright landing.

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SpaxeX has only launched what it calls "flight proven" boosters twice before, but the company hopes a successful mission today will prove that the practice is reliable. Newcomer satellite operator Bulgaria Sat was the second, with BulgariaSat-1 in June. The company's previous mission was less than three days ago, launching 10 Iridium Next satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. "One of our core strategies is to offer new services that are either flat out impossible or not easily replicated by more traditional "bent pipe" and geostationary systems".

SpaceX will stream the entire launch for free on YouTube. Its payload was a communications satellite capable of broadcasting on both the Ku-band for client EchoStar, and the C-Band fro SES. The mission is expected to last for at least 15 years.