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SpaceX Launches Cargo Toward Space Station

SpaceX Launches Cargo Toward Space StationSpaceX Launches Cargo Toward Space Station

SpaceX successfully launched an uncrewed Dragon spacecraft for NASA on March 6, sending fresh supplies toward the International Space Station and undertaking another rocket landing, the 50th for the company overall.
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket used in the flight is a veteran; its first stage also lofted the previous Dragon cargo mission in December 2019. The rocket blasted off from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 11:50 p.m. EST (0450 GMT on Saturday, March 7), illuminating the skies above Florida’s Space Coast, Space.com reported.
As the rocket roared to life, car alarms at the press site were triggered, barely audible above the more than 1 million pounds of thrust generated by the rocket’s engines. 
Approximately 8 minutes after liftoff, the booster’s engines relit as part of the landing process. Sonic booms cracked across the sky as the rocket stuck its landing at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 facility at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX, which prioritizes the development of reusable spaceflight systems, has now pulled off 50 such touchdowns during orbital missions to date.
This Dragon capsule is a veteran as well, having reached the ISS twice before, in February 2017 and December 2018. If all goes according to plan, the capsule will arrive at the ISS for the third time early on Monday morning (March 9).
The mission that kicked off tonight, dubbed CRS-20, is the final flight under SpaceX's first commercial resupply services contract with NASA, which was signed in 2008 and is valued at $1.6 billion. 
The first Dragon reached the ISS in 2012, becoming the first commercial spacecraft ever to do so. Twenty flights later, this version of the Dragon will soon retire. 
Beginning in October of this year, all future resupply missions will feature SpaceX's upgraded Dragon 2 capsule. That version will be capable of flying five times whereas each Dragon 1 was rated to fly just three times. 
Dragon 1 has to berth with the space station via robotic arm, whereas Dragon 2 will dock itself to the orbital outpost. The new capsule also features many other upgrades.
SpaceX has also built a crew-carrying capsule, called (appropriately enough) Crew Dragon. Crew Dragon first flew a year ago, reaching the space station on SpaceX's uncrewed Demo-1 mission. 
The crew spacecraft will soon fly astronauts to the orbiting lab on a mission called Demo-2 that could launch as soon as early May. 
SpaceX holds a multibillion-dollar NASA contract to fly astronauts to and from the ISS. This deal is separate from the company's cargo contract.

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