The team also successfully landed the Falcon 9’s first stage at Cape Canaveral, although these touchdowns are becoming nearly routine at this point. SpaceX wants to land as many rockets as possible going forward, but it’s limited until Falcon Heavy arrives and it can routinely expect to have enough fuel for return trips.
It’ll be a while before SpaceX can reuse every last inch of a rocket. Elon Musk is aiming for 2018. If and when that happens, though, it could mean a lot for space travel. Rather than throwing away millions (if not billions) of dollars’ worth of equipment with every launch, both SpaceX and government agencies would only have to worry about replacements when the hardware either fails or reaches the end of its usable lifespan. That, in turn, could open the door to both more frequent launches and missions that would otherwise be too expensive to justify.