SpaceX is making another delivery to the International Space Station

Alain Brian
Juin 10, 2017

The rocket launched from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida shortly after 5pm local time on Saturday (Sunday AEST), after stormy weather and lightning delayed the launch on Thursday.

Today's launch marked the 100th mission from NASA's LC-39A, a historic site at the space agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Seconds later, the stage fell away and the single engine powering the Falcon 9's upper stage ignited for a six-minute-48-second burn to orbit.

SpaceX on Saturday launched a shipment of supplies for the astronauts living at the International Space Station, carrying for the first time an experiment independently designed by China. This launch brings the aerospace company one step closer to making flights to space more affordable with reused rockets and capsules. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell promised the company would increase its launch frequency this year, and it looks like that may actually be the case.

As my colleague April Glaser wrote earlier this week, the fact that SpaceX is able to re-use is rockets and spacecraft is a pretty big deal.

During a launch, the second stage booster ignites once the first stage separates from the spacecraft.

Saturday's launching was SpaceX's seventh Falcon 9 flight this year - it's sixth in a row off pad 39A - and its 35th since the rocket's debut in 2010.

Until SpaceX and Boeing start transporting crews, astronauts will continue to ride Russian rockets.

Just two months ago, SpaceX launched its first recycled booster on a satellite mission. The company successfully re-used one of them during a March flight.

Robert Pearlman, space historian and founder of collectSPACE, explains, "NASA's space shuttle orbiters, the U.S. Air Force's X-37B, and the Soviet Union's VA spacecraft were all reused on orbital missions".

Under the agreement, NanoRacks will deliver the device to the USA side of the space station and astronauts there will conduct studies using the device in about two weeks, data from which will be sent back to the Chinese researchers. Two minutes later, the solar arrays deployed to provide the spacecraft with electrical power.

"That question has been posed", Ven Feng, manager of the ISS Transportation Integration Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said during a post-launch press conference Saturday. Since it came back to Earth, SpaceX has been getting it ready for this next flight. Docking of the Dragon CRS-11 is planned for 5th June to Harmony Nadir or Unity Nadir docking port.

The ISS crew will then use the robotic Canadarm2 to grab Dragon and place it on the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. So far, all five of the company's attempts to land on land have worked just fine.

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