The two-stage rocket is taking off at 4:30 p.m. from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 40 in Florida.
SpaceX blasted off a load of supplies Monday for the International Space Station aboard a rocket and a cargo ship that have both flown before, marking the second such flight for the California-based company.
So far, the company has launched 10 pre-flown Falcon 9 boosters on orbital missions, Jessica Jensen, SpaceX's Dragon mission manager, said in a prelaunch news conference yesterday (April 1). A variant of the Dragon spacecraft, called Crew Dragon, is being developed for USA - based crew transport to and from the space station. The first stage safely separated and fell back to the Earth.More news: Declan Donnelly prepares to host without Ant
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A few minutes after takeoff, the first stage engines cut off, having carried Dragon out of the Earth's atmosphere.
The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor will survey severe thunderstorms in Earth's atmosphere and upper-atmospheric lightning from a perch on the exterior of the European Space Agency's Columbus module.
Stuffed with science About half of the cargo inside the Dragon will support 50 of the 250 science experiments that the Expedition 55 crew are conducting aboard the ISS. Also aboard are the Veggie Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (an experimental method for growing food in microgravity), and the Multi-use Variable-g Platform, aka "MVP", a temperature- and humidity-controlled artificial gravity machine about the size of a microwave, with space inside for a range of biological samples, from cells, to fish, to flatworms. The research will help scientists understand why and how these phenomena happen.
These are only a few examples of the many science experiments heading to the ISS aboard this Dragon cargo mission.
SpaceX is kicking off the week by launching supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). The ultimate promise of these tests, if successful, is to allow SpaceX the option of recovering boosters during missions with heavier payloads and higher orbits.