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SpaceX successfully launches ISS resupply mission, rocket lands on ground

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-02-20 16:30
SpaceX successfully launches ISS resupply mission, rocket lands on ground

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on a supply mission to the International Space Station from historic launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, February 19, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

LOS ANGELES -- US space firm SpaceX launched its 10th cargo mission to the International Space Station on Sunday morning from US space agency NASA's historic moon pad for the first time.

A Falcon 9 lifted off on time at about 09:39 a.m. EST (1439 GMT) from US space agency NASA's historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the first time, NASA TV showed.

"...3, 2, 1, Ignition! And Liftoff of the Falcon 9 to the space station, on the first commercial launch from Kennedy Space Center's historic 39A," said NASA launch commentator George Diller.

Video from the scene showed hundreds of space program enthusiasts turned out in force to witness the first launch off LC-39A since the space shuttle Atlantis blasted off in July 2011 on the program's final flight.

The launch pad was best known as the launch site for the Apollo 11 mission, which sent the first humans to the surface of the moon, as well as numerous space shuttle missions.

The launch went smoothly on Sunday.

The Falcon 9's first and second stage separated about 2.5 minutes into Sunday's launch. As the first stage flew back for its touchdown, the second stage continued to power Dragon to orbit.

Approximately 8 minutes after the initial lift-off, the California-based company successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on ground.

"Baby, came back," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk posted on Instagram, along with a photo of the rocket landing on ground at LZ-1 on the Florida coast.

Right on schedule, the Dragon spacecraft, which is carrying about 5,500 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies equipment to the International Space Station, then separated from Falcon 9's second stage about 10 minutes after liftoff and achieved its preliminary orbit. The spacecraft's two solar arrays then completed deployment.

"Dragon is on its way to the International Space Station. Capture by @Space_Station crew set for early Wednesday morning," SpaceX then posted on Twitter.

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