SpaceX's 14th mission to the International Space Station (ISS), and the second to use a refurbished Dragon cargo ship and Falcon 9 first stage booster in a single mission, has successfully launched. At 4:30 pm EDT (20:30 GMT), the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-14) mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Onboard the unmanned spacecraft is about 5,800 lb (2,630 kg) of experiments and supplies for the space station and its crew of six.
According to SpaceX, today's launch went off without any major problems. Under partly cloudy skies, the Falcon 9 lifted off on schedule and the stage separation, second stage firing, Dragon separation and solar panel deployment all occurred as planned. This is the 14th of 20 contracted cargo missions that SpaceX is sending to the ISS. The payload includes a storm-hunting instrument supplied by ESA as well as a British-built space debris hunter. In addition, there is a new facility to test materials, coatings and components, an experiment to study the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and the blood cells it produces, a new hydroponics experiment, and general supplies.
The Dragon spacecraft for CRS-14 previously flew on CRS-8 in April 2016, and the Falcon 9 booster was used to launch CRS-12 in August 2017. SpaceX says that though the Dragon cargo ship will be recovered and reused at the end of the mission, the Falcon 9 rocket was destroyed after the launch. Instead of landing the booster on a drone seabarge, it was used to carry out a landing exercise to gather experimental data for future landing missions before it plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Dragon is currently undergoing system checks after which it will conduct a series of orbital maneuvers that will allow it to catch up with and rendezvous with the ISS. On Wednesday at about 4:00 am PDT, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishige Kanai and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle will use the station's robotic arm to capture the Dragon capsule and guide it to a berth on one of the space lab's modules. It will then spend about a month there before returning to Earth with 3,900 lb (1,760 kg) and splash down in the Pacific Ocean for recovery.
The video below is a replay of the live webcast of the launch.
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