SpaceX successfully flew pulled off its 11th Falcon 9 space launch of the year on Monday, sending 6,400 pounds of cargo of to the International Space Station in its twelfth cargo resupply mission for NASA. The company successfully landed the first-stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket on solid land.
“X marks the spot for yet another picture perfect landing of a Falcon 9 first-stage,” Tom Praderio, a firmware engineer at the avionics department for SpaceX, said during Monday’s webcast of the launch. “This is great news for everyone here at SpaceX. This is exactly what we try to do with all of our rockets,” referring to the company’s larger goal to make nearly all of its spaceflight architecture reusable in order to reduce the costs of going to space.
SpaceX is now a perfect 8 for 8 when it comes to rocket landings this year. The company has not experienced a failed launch or landing or accident of any kind — an astounding feat which will only cause the company’s confidence to swell even further.
Monday’s launch took place from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, from Launch Complex 39A. The landing of the Falcon 9 booster occurred on solid ground at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral, a few miles south of KSC.
Monday’s mission carried essential resources to the crew on board the station, as well as materials for over 250 new and ongoing scientific experiments. This includes a commercial supercomputer built by Hewlett Packard, an experiment to measure cosmic ray particles called ISS-CREAM, an augmented reality system to help the crew’s operations, and new instruments designed to measure changes in astronaut circadian rhythms in space.
The astronauts on board the space station will also get to dig into a fresh supply of ice cream, so yay?
The SpaceX Dragon vehicle carrying all these supplies will remain in orbit for one month after rendezvousing with the station on Wednesday. It will carry back 3,000 pounds of samples and other cargo when it makes its way back to Earth.
“Today’s launch will mark the final new cargo Dragon spacecraft to visit the ISS,” said Praderio. All future SpaceX launches to the space station will now be conducted with reused Dragon spacecraft only.