SpaceX's Dragon Lifts Off With Science Experiments, Research Equipment Headed to ISS

Falcon 9 in flight on February 19

NASA and SpaceX had to call off today's planned arrival of a robotic Dragon cargo spaceship at the International Space Station today due to a navigational glitch. That triggered an automatic abort for the cargo ship's approach.

The SpaceX Dragon is pictured in the grips of the Canadarm2 shortly after astronauts Shane Kimbrough of NASA and and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency captured the capsule Thursday morning. SpaceX will reattempt to dock on Thursday morning. That process will take about a month, NPR reports, after which it's back down to Earth for the Dragon.

The soft landing marked the third time that Musk's space firm has landed its rocket on solid ground after launch, but the first successful ground landing during the daytime. While not necessarily a mission of "firsts", SpaceX executives have added that the launch, which was originally scheduled for February 18, nearly didn't even take place since that launch was called off with just 13 seconds remaining.

SpaceX is now working on another version of the Dragon that aims to ferry people to space as early as next year. This marked SpaceX's first launch from Kennedy Space Center's historic pad, and the first launch from LC-39A since July 8, 2011 when Atlantis lifted off for the final flight of the Shuttle programme. "A ideal vehicle for SpaceX, as it arrived right on time". The space flyers will also explore the area around while flying.

Coincidentally, a Russian supply ship launched atop a rocket from Kazakhstan just a few hours earlier.

The Expedition 50 crew's next cargo delivery is scheduled to arrive Friday. The space company has been transporting supplies to the space station since 2012. It was about three-quarters of a mile away from the space station.

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