SpaceX launches Dragon spacecraft to resupply ISS

For SpaceX, the liftoff of its Dragon-topped Falcon 9 rocket at 5:07 p.m. EDT (2107 GMT) signaled the beginning of its 11th commercial resupply services (CRS) mission under a contract with NASA. The launch is set for 5:07 pm ET from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

It will carry with it almost 6,000 pounds of supplies for astronauts, along with science experiments and research investigations.

Reusing it is in line with the company's long-term goal of significantly reducing spaceflight costs through multiple uses of its equipment.

Over the past year and a half, SpaceX has gotten the knack of having its Falcon 9 first-stage boosters fly themselves back for landings and recoveries. "For [SpaceX], it's the seventh launch this year, and you can tell that we picked up the rate significantly", Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of flight reusability at SpaceX, said in a prelaunch briefing on Wednesday (May 31). It's the first time a Dragon has been reused for a flight, making SpaceX the first private company to send a vehicle into orbit for a second time.


Before Dragon arrives at the space station, the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft will depart the station Sunday, June 4.

The supplies for special experiments include live mice to study the effects of osteoporosis and fruit flies for research on microgravity's impact on the heart.

SpaceX is wasting no time on their mission to reinvent and revitalize space travel.

Reusing a Dragon capsule is "one more piece of the puzzle" in creating a fully reusable launch system, said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at the Teal Group. With a growing stockpile of recovered rockets, the company is slowly starting to send them back into space. When this refurbished Dragon reaches the orbiting lab Monday, it will be the first returning craft since the now-retired shuttles.


"The majority of this Dragon has been in space before", he said during a prelaunch news conference earlier this week.

When Dragon shows up, astronauts will use the station's robotic arm to pull it in for its berthing.

The CRS-11 mission Thursday will not use a pre-flown rocket.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.



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