SpaceX will attempt to send a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on Friday morning, with an instantaneous launch window that opens at 10:36am ET.
On Dec. 15, at about 10:36 a.m. the Elon Musk-led space exploration company successfully launched almost 4,800 pounds of cargo en route to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA using the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, both of which represent the first previously used rockets utilized on a NASA supply mission.
As live images showed the first stage glide down, steady and upright, from the air to the launchpad, cheers erupted at SpaceX s Hawthorne, California headquarters, where employees regularly gather to watch rocket launches.
This was SpaceX's fourth launch with a used booster and the second time with a used Dragon spacecraft.
"That marks the second successful visit to and from space for this particular booster", said a SpaceX commentator on the webcast.
"In the long run, reusability is going to significantly reduce the cost of access to space, and that's what's going to be required to send future generations to explore the universe", SpaceX's Dragon mission manager Jessica Jensen said Monday during a briefing with reporters ahead of the launch.
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The rocket launched and landed on Friday had already flown to space and come back home before, when it flew a mission in June.
Though the early days of rocket landings saw many of them topple, miss the target or blow up, SpaceX has successfully recovered 14 of its boosters this year alone.
"A variant of the Dragon spacecraft, called Crew Dragon, is being developed for US-based crew transport to and from the space station". NASA's International Space Station manager, Kirk Shireman, says the risk of launching a recycled rocket is about the same as for a brand new one.
The Dragon holds almost 5,000 pounds of supplies, including a barley experiment for Budweiser.
The mission is SpaceX s 13th of 20 under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The Falcon is expected to dock with the ISS by Sunday.