For the First Time, SpaceX Flies Used Rocket to ISS

A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off from SLC-40 to deliver cargo to the ISS on Dec. 15, 2017. Photo: SpaceX.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off from SLC-40 to deliver cargo to the ISS on Dec. 15, 2017. Photo: SpaceX.

SpaceX successfully completed its 13th cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) this afternoon. The launch marked the first time SpaceX used previously flown hardware — a Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule — to send cargo up to the ISS, signifying NASA’s confidence in the viability and reliability of its reusable launch vehicles.

Notably, the mission marked SpaceX’s long-awaited return to Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex-40 since the company lost a Falcon 9 in a spectacular explosion last September. SpaceX has worked to rebuild and upgrade the launchpad throughout 2017, and during a call with reporters earlier this week, John Muratore, SpaceX’s SLC-40 director, said the refurbished pad now has a much longer operational lifetime of at least 10 to 20 years.

After placing the Dragon capsule into orbit, SpaceX also successfully relanded the first stage booster, its 20th successful recovery thus far. The same booster was used to loft the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-11) mission in June.

If all goes according to plan, ISS crew will rendezvous with the Dragon capsule on Sunday, SpaceX said.

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