SpaceX has launched its nineteenth resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on behalf of NASA. The launch took place at 12:29 PM EST (9:29 AM PST) from Cape Canaveral in Florida, with a Falcon 9 blasting off with a Dragon cargo capsule on top carrying around 5,200 lbs of payload destined for the ISS.
The Dragon cargo craft used in this launch has actually made this trip twice before — first in 2014, and then in 2017. Both times after returning it was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean and refurbished by SpaceX in order to fly again. SpaceX has designed as much of its space launch system as possible for reusability, and the Dragon spacecraft, which returns from the ISS loaded with cargo sent back by the astronauts living and working on the space station, is a perfect candidate for re-use.
SpaceX also recovered the first-stage rocket booster of the brand-new Falcon 9 used in this launch, landing the spent rocket component on its floating drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Next, the Dragon capsule will make its way to the Space Station, where it’s set to rendezvous on Sunday. It’ll dock with the station with the help of the robotic Canadarm2, and then spend around four weeks at the station, being unloaded and then loaded back up with 3,800 lbs of return cargo, which includes the results of experiments conducted on the station that researchers on the ground will study further.
Payloads being delivered on this mission include a range of experiments, like beer brewing equipment sent up by Budweiser, a parking space that’ll live outside the station for mission-critical robots and an updated version of the CIMON robotic astronaut assistant.