SpaceX's Falcon 9 has successful launch on reused pad

By Greg Pallone and Jerry Hume, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Friday, December 15, 2017, 3:44 PM EST

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket had a successful launch on Friday on a pad that was reused after a 2016 explosion, beginning a NASA cargo mission to the International Space Station.

The weather was pristine and conditions favorable as the Falcon 9 launched at 10:36 a.m. Friday. Several milestones were checked off during the latest cargo run to the International Space Station, such as a refurbished launch pad, a re-flown rocket booster and cargo craft, plus cool things being delivered to the orbiting outpost.

The rocket soared to orbit from Pad 40 -- the first launch from this pad this year, and the last Space Coast liftoff of the year.

Many will recall back in 2016, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded on Space X's Pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a test engine fire.  

This was the first launch since the static-fire test incident and SpaceX has been using its NASA-leased Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center for missions.

The commercial company says the 10-year-old launch facility has undergone upgrades to modernize it. It says the ten year old launch facility has undergone upgrades to modernize it.

Space X says the pad held up just fine.

"The blast system, all the additional work to this pad kept it strong. Means we will be able to have much faster turnarounds in the future," said Jessica Jensen, SpaceX Dragon Program manager, after launch.

This launch features a first: both the Falcon 9 first stage booster and Dragon cargo craft have flown on previous missions. The Falcon 9 rocket will deliver a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station for NASA.

The capsule is on a two day journey to the orbiting outpost. Nearly 4,800 pounds of science experiments and crew supplies will help astronauts living at the orbiting outpost. 

It's set to arrive around 6 a.m. Sunday morning.

The booster made a successful landing back at the cape a few minutes after liftoff. As SpaceX re-landed the first stage booster on land at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, man people heard the sonic boom.

"The sonic boom scared me a lot. A lot!" said Royce Wasik, who saw his first rocket launch and landing today.

The Falcon 9 rocket experienced a few delays. Earlier this week, officials said they were taking additional time to conduct full inspections and cleanings. Particles in the second stage fuel system were reportedly detected.

The next scheduled launch from the Space Coast is the SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy, touted as the most powerful rocket in the world right now.

Liftoff will be some time in January 2018. We will keep you posted on the launch date.

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