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SpaceX launches cargo mission for NASA to International Space Station

USA: SpaceX has successfully launched a cargo mission for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS), its fifth launch of the year, after being delayed by a few days due to a couple of issues.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 2.48 A.M. Eastern time today, Friday, May 4. On board was an uncrewed Cargo Dragon spacecraft carrying 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds) of supplies for the astronauts on the ISS as part of the CRS-17 mission.

“If you have to be up, I can’t think of a better reason than to see one of these launches — it was absolutely spectacular,” Kenny Todd, ISS Operations and Integration manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said after the launch in a press conference. “We’re really excited to get Dragon on board in a couple of days.”

About eight minutes after launch, the first stage of the rocket landed successfully on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You several miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. The launch had been delayed from Thursday, May 3 after an electrical issue with the drone ship.

The launch had originally been scheduled to take place earlier this week. But an electrical problem on the ISS caused the mission to be pushed back while the problem was resolved. The spacecraft will now make its way to the ISS, and is set to arrive in the early morning of Monday, May 6.

The Dragon spacecraft used on this flight has flown before, on the CRS-12 mission back in August 2017.  But the Falcon 9 rocket itself was brand new – although recovery was important, as NASA are hoping to use the first stage booster of the rocket again on another one or two missions.