Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on SpaceX's 14th station cargo mission


A Monday launch by SpaceX, Elon Musk's private aerospace company, saw a Falcon 9 rocket lift off from Florida packed with three tons of supplies for the International Space Station (ISS).

"Watch as we send nearly 5,800 pounds of science, research and supplies to the crew on the International Space Station", said NASA during the launch on its official Facebook page.

"What is really neat about this is it is becoming the norm", Jensen said.

What makes the expedition notable is that it highlights the possibility of reusability in space exploration, according to Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon mission management for SpaceX. Sadly, bad sea conditions in the Atlantic scrubbed the launch attempt, and the booster (B1044) instead attempted a soft landing in the ocean.

Loaded with 5,800 lbs.

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As the spacecraft approaches the ISS, Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai and NASA astronaut Scott Tingle will use the station's Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the spacecraft and tug it to the Harmony module, NASA officials said in a statement. In the background, a thunderstorm loomed large over the mission, but thankfully allowed a flight-proven Dragon and Falcon 9 booster to squeak by on their way to orbit.

The launch can be watched live on NASA-TV, with a broadcast that begins at 4 p.m. Establishment scope is set to start at 8:30 a.m.

The cargo ship is scheduled to latch onto the space station early Wednesday, and will stay in orbit for about a month before returning to Earth. Included among the science-related cargo is an experiment created to study severe thunderstorms on Earth. This "Multi-use Variable-g Platform" has built-in carousels that can produce up to 2 Gs of artificial gravity, or two times the pull of Earth's gravity, according to NASA's description.

The Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS), which will be arriving on Dragon, uses a newly-developed passive nutrient delivery system as well as the "Veggie" plant growth facility which is now aboard the space station, in order to cultivate leafy greens. You can read about more experiments on CRS-14 here.

The capsule will be transporting NASA's old Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot in need of repairs, which the space agency hopes to fix before relaunching back to the station. But there's more to SpaceX than meets the eye.