SpaceX launches cargo to space station using recycled rocket, spaceship

Falcon 9

"Falcon 9 is on its way", a SpaceX commentator said as the white rocket surged skyward over Cape Canaveral, Florida at 4.30pm (2030 GMT).

This is SpaceX's 14th cargo mission to the space station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract. According to Jessica Jensen, SpaceX's Director of Dragon Mission Management, this particularly Dragon capsule was the first to fly with upgraded water sealing, meaning that it was considerably easier (and thus cheaper) for SpaceX to refurbish and refly.

But the most noteworthy thing about Monday's resupply mission isn't the launch itself.

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This is the second time NASA is relying on a used Falcon 9 rocket to get equipment to the space station, and it's the third time a used Dragon cargo capsule will carry supplies to the ISS, as well. These uniquely aggressive landing attempts are all believed to have ignited three Merlin 1D engines rather than the single engine typically ignited for landing burns, providing a more efficient use of propellant reserves at the cost of extreme acceleration (G) forces and far slimmer margins of error. Which is, of course, SpaceX's grand vision: To make rocket launches repeatable, reliable, quotidian.

The cargo ship will arrive at the space station on Wednesday morning. The extent of this effect, and bone marrow's ability to recover when back on Earth, are of interest to space researchers and healthcare providers alike. Both of those pre-launch shows will be replays of broadcasts NASA TV has already aired, but the launch coverage will go live at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a live post-launch news conference at 6:30 p.m. Above, the last Falcon 9 launch, on March 30.

"The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract enables us to adjust as necessary for additional missions or contingencies so we can provide the greatest benefits possible from this great worldwide asset", explains ISS Program Manager Kirk Shireman in an official statement.

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