Why SpaceX Rocket Landing Is a Giant Leap for Space Travel

PHOTO: A remodeled version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the launchers first mission since a June failure in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Dec. 21, 2015.PlayJoe Skipper/Reuters
WATCH How SpaceX Rocket Launch Could Boost Commercial Space Travel

Elon Musk and his SpaceX team have edged closer to making space travel more affordable after successfully launching and returning a rocket to Earth.

Musk has said the ability to reuse a rocket -- which dramatically reduces launch cost -- is something that will help revolutionize commercial space travel.

"I think this is a critical step along the way towards being able to establish a city on Mars," Musk said on a call with reporters Monday night after the Falcon 9 successfully landed upright on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The company has previously attempted the feat three times, coming close to landing on a bull's-eye on a floating barge. The landing Monday night was the first time SpaceX tried to return the Falcon 9 to a target on land. It was also the first time a rocket successfully launched a payload into space and returned to Earth intact.

Musk has previously said he believes reusing rockets -- which cost as much as a commercial airplane -- could reduce the cost of access to space by a factor of one hundred.

While many other rockets burn up on re-entry, SpaceX designed the Falcon 9 to be able to withstand the heat and land vertically so the rocket can be used again on a future launch.

Aside from the return on land, this launch was also different since it used an upgraded Falcon 9 that stands slightly taller than predecessors at 229.6 feet and has more thrust.

The landing is a huge victory for Musk and his team, who were sidelined after the explosion of the Falcon 9 rocket in June as it carried the Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.

Last month, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin successfully launched a rocket to a test altitude of 329,839 feet and then landed it near the launch pad in Texas.

ABC News' Erin Dooley contributed to this report.