SpaceX launches rocket from historic NASA pad

SpaceX hopes to launch a Falcon 9 rocket and cargo craft Saturday morning from the same Kennedy Space Center pad that was used to send men to the moon almost 50 years ago.

The rocket had blasted off at 9.39 a.m. EST with a Dragon cargo capsule carrying 5,500 pounds of supplies, experiments and other miscellaneous cargo bound for the worldwide space station.

A SpaceX Falcon9 rocket sits on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

SpaceX pulled off another successful rocket landing this morning - and this time during the day on the coast of Florida.

SpaceX had made a decision to delay the mission on Saturday, 13 seconds before launch due to concerns about the steering system in the rocket's upper stage. SpaceX plans to use the Falcon Heavy to launch its Red Dragon spacecraft to Mars by as early as 2020 in an uncrewed mission. SpaceX turned to Launch Complex 39A - which it leases from NASA - to resume flights.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for the launch. One obvious change is the long, low warehouse on the site that reads "SpaceX" along its outside wall.

The control cheers were reinvigorated minutes later when the Dragon cargo ship successfully reached orbit.

The first and second stages of the Falcon 9 rocket separated 2.5 minutes into the launch.

It will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. As many outlets noted, it marked the first time the historic launch pad has been used by a private rocket, rather than a government-funded one.

The complex also was used to launch the Apollo moon missions. All we have right now is speculation on the actual costs and needed engineering to make this happen; once they launch a reused booster we'll be able to see just what the economics are.

It also marked the first company-owned and -operated spacecraft ever to launch from the venerable complex, which exemplified USA space endeavors and heroic astronaut exploits from early phases of the Cold War. According to NASA's website everything is go for launch.

"Dragon [was] filled with more than 5,000 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to directly support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations", the press release stated further.

  • Carolyn Briggs