Recycled SpaceX Dragon Capsule Makes 2nd Delivery to Space Station

19 December, 2017, 11:44 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • SpaceX falcon 9 launch livestream

The California-based SpaceX company headed by Internet tycoon Elon Musk aims to lower the cost of spaceflight by reusing costly rocket components.

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. SpaceX spent $50 million rebuilding the pad. SpaceX ultimately wants to launch the Falcon Heavy from 39A, too, but the pad needed some modifications first in order to accommodate the larger rocket. Once SpaceX identified the cause of the catastrophic explosion - a rupture in the Falcon 9's upper stage helium pressurization system - launches resumed from pad 39A at the nearby Kennedy Space Center while crews rebuilt pad 40. It was damaged during a SpaceX rocket explosion in September 2016 and has been in the fix process until now. SpaceX couldn't fully focus on the upgrades to 39A while repairs were still being done at SLC-40.

The space station is down to three astronauts until Sunday's launch of three more.

Moving forward, the company plans to launch its Falcon 9 missions from SLC-40 and its Falcon Heavy flights from 39A.

However, it was the first such effort for NASA, SpaceX's most important customer.

The cargo load includes two NASA-sponsored experiments to monitor the sun's energy output, a key driver of Earth's climate, and measure the density and distribution of space junk in the space station's orbit.

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stage descends back to Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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

SpaceX pushed back the launch from Wednesday to flush out contaminants found in the Falcon 9's second stage fuel tank. If SpaceX doesn't end up launching today, then it'll have to wait until later in December.

Take off is scheduled for 10:36AM ET, and SpaceX has an instantaneous launch window for this flight, meaning the rocket has to go up at that time or else the mission will be delayed. There are some clouds at the launch site, but overall weather conditions appear favorable for a liftoff today.

This was the company's 17th launch of the year, the highest number of launches annually in SpaceX's history. Check back later to watch the mission live.


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