WASHINGTON-SpaceX successfully landed a reusable Falcon 9 rocket on a floating drone ship at sea early Sunday after the vehicle had sent a Japanese communications satellite into orbit.

The California-based company’s launch and landing was part of its ongoing effort to re-use costly rocket parts instead of jettisoning them into the ocean. The white rocket launched under a dark night sky from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:26 am (0526 GMT). The landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship was especially challenging because the JCSAT-16 satellite had to be carried into geostationary transfer orbit, or GTO, a highly elliptical orbit.

“The first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing challenging,” Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, known as SpaceX, had said prior to the mission.

SpaceX mission control erupted in cheers as live video footage showed the successful landing of the first stage of the rocket.

The communications satellite will help provide more stable satellite services for video distribution and data transfer communications in Asia, Russia, Oceania, Middle East and North America.