SpaceX is living up to the hype. Reusable spacecraft and rockets used to be considered an impossibility. SpaceX said they could reuse their equipment, making their launches markedly less expensive; and on Friday they made good on that promise.
At 10:36am EST, the partially used Falcon 9 rocket, carrying a previously used Dragon spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Dragon spacecraft will dock at the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday. NASA astronauts will use the space station’s robotic arm to to capture the Dragon as it arrives at the station. You had me at robotic arm. You can watch that live on NASA TV starting at 4:30am EST. ‘Installation coverage’ is set to begin at 7:30am EST. This, according to nasa.gov. So, you west coast space junkies might as well just stay up late to catch the magic!
The Dragon is carrying more than 4,800 pounds of ‘research equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the space station.’ Among the research are an experiment in space manufacturing, and an enhanced study of solar energy.
Dragon will return to Earth in January, 2018 with more than 3,600 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies. The Falcon 9 was recovered safely after phase one of this launch, and could be used again.