Published: Tue, December 19, 2017
Markets | By Josh Butler

SpaceX launches recycled rocket on delivery mission to International Space Station

SpaceX launches recycled rocket on delivery mission to International Space Station

This launch is also a big milestone for SpaceX because of where the mission is taking off from: the company's launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SLC-40.

This will be the first launch in more than a year from this Florida pad, the scene of a rocket explosion in 2016.

As far as re-using launch vehicles, I believe this is the first time NASA has employed a re-usable launch vehicle for an actual mission. NASA signaled that in the future it woul be willing to use SpaceX's reused rockets on a case-by-case basis.

As before, SpaceX will attempt to land the first-stage booster back at Cape Canaveral after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 will blast off from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The capsule made a space station shipment in 2015.

About 10 minutes after launch, the Dragon craft should ideally detach from the second stage of the Falcon 9 before attaching to the ISS.

Today, SpaceX successfully used a rocket and cargo capsule to deliver supplies to the ISS.

Ven Feng, a NASA manager, said he had "a little sense of deja vu" watching Friday's launch and landing of the same rocket he saw take off and return in June.

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"That marks the second successful visit to and from space for this particular booster", said a SpaceX commentator on the webcast.

However, it was the first such effort for NASA, SpaceX's most important customer. The launch was originally scheduled for December 4, and then for Tuesday and Wednesday but was postponed.

The cargo craft is scheduled to arrive at the station Sunday after a laser-guided final approach to the research outpost.

"A variant of the Dragon spacecraft, called Crew Dragon, is being developed for US-based crew transport to and from the space station". Both experiment packages will be mounted outside the station with the robot arm.

The recycled spaceship blasted off on Friday carrying 4,800 pounds (2,200 kilograms) of food, supplies and experiments - including one to study thyroid cancer and another to grow barley in space.

And the astronauts can expect a few treats, and perhaps some holiday gifts.

As for Christmas presents, NASA isn't saying, in true Santa style.

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