SpaceX has successfully landed and recovered a rocket on an ocean platform for the first time, after launching a cargo ship to the International Space Station.
About two-and-a-half minutes after Friday afternoon’s liftoff from Cape Canaveral in Florida the main part of the two-stage booster separated.
The Falcon 9 craft turned around and headed toward a so-called drone ship – named Of Course I Still Love You – in the Atlantic Ocean, neatly accomplishing a vertical landing.
The company said the achievement marks a historic first in the effort to make rockets recyclable and deliver cheaper, more accessible space travel.
SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, erupted in cheers and chants of “USA” as the rocket stood upright on the barge about eight minutes after launch.
The unmanned Falcon spaceship was launched to carry supplies and a futuristic inflatable living quarters to the International Space Station.
The Dragon capsule and its 7,000lb (3,175kg) cargo of food, equipment and science experiments is expected to reach the 260-mile-high space station by Sunday.
SpaceX is run by Elon Musk – the billionaire founder of Tesla electric cars.
Four previous at-sea landing bids have failed.
SpaceX did manage a ground-based landing for its rocket in December.
That marked the first time a rocket ascended into orbit and landed back on Earth.
Friday’s double triumph also means the company has resumed space station deliveries for NASA.
The company’s last attempt in June 2015 ended in flames after just two minutes.
That unmanned craft was doomed by a snapped strut in the oxygen tank of the upper stage.
Rocket boosters are usually jettisoned after a couple of minutes and land in the sea where they are recovered and eventually refurbished – a costly and time-consuming process.