Thursday's launch will shuttle the Es'hail-2 telecommunications satellite, which will serve the Middle East and North Africa region.
The first stage of the rocket successfully sat on a floating platform off the coast of Florida. The satellite separated from the rocket 32 minutes later.
Falcon 9's first stage for the Es'hail-2 mission previously supported the Telstar 19 VANTAGE mission in July 2018. Falcon 9 first launched on 4 June 2010, and since that time it underwent two substantial changes. It will be refurbished and launched for a third time as part of SpaceX's plan to cut down launch costs.
What is Falcon 9? The satellite will use its own power to achieve a geostationary orbit. This was the second go-round for that particular first stage.
An artist's impression of the Es'hail 2 communications satellite in orbit. If all goes well, the Es'hail 2 will enter service at the end of January.
A proud staple of the SpaceX team as the satellite moved towards its intended destination, the 15-story booster stage made its way back down to earth with its aerodynamic fins as three of the rocket engines ignited to slow down the stage's re-entry. Television views provided by SpaceX showed the stage smoothly descending to touchdown about eight minutes and 15 seconds after liftoff. Other private companies, like Blue Origin, are working on similar technologies, but to date SpaceX is the only one to have successfully used the concept. The finely tuned Falcon 9 rocket has already been rolled out in the static fire test prior to setting it on the launch pad, attaching umbilical connections, aligning the vehicle, and lastly testing the vehicle condition.
The launch was one of two USA launches that were to take place Thursday, until the morning launch from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia was pushed back a day because of the likelihood of poor weather.