STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

SpaceX launches used rocket and spacecraft for first time ever

SpaceX made another huge step toward becoming the space industry's king of reusable hardware.On Friday it laun...

Posted: Dec 15, 2017 9:42 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2017 9:42 PM

SpaceX made another huge step toward becoming the space industry's king of reusable hardware.

On Friday it launched a used spacecraft (the Dragon) on top of a partially used rocket (the Falcon 9) for the first time ever.

Liftoff occurred just before 10:40 a.m. ET at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and everything went off without a hitch. The first-stage Falcon 9 booster used in Friday's launch was safely recovered once again, so it could potentially be used in a third mission.

The fact that SpaceX can re-fly large portions of its hardware is a big deal. Not long ago, many in the space industry didn't think it could be done. It's a stunning feat because it allows SpaceX to cheapen the price of a single launch.

The mission is part of SpaceX's ongoing partnership with NASA to complete unmanned trips to the International Space Station.

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will dock at the station on Sunday. On board is more than 4,800 pounds of cargo, including science experiments and supplies for the crew.

Among the haul of research supplies: A batch of barley seeds that's part of a Budweiser-backed experiment to brew better beer.

Related: SpaceX is sending barley to space for Budweiser research

Ricardo Marques, the company's vice president of marketing, told CNNMoney last week that it is in-part a marketing scheme. But "there's a lot of scientific horsepower behind this experiment," he said.

The barley experiment could help scientists better understand the seeds and the best way to grow them back here on Earth.

Six people are currently on board the space station -- three NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and one Italian astronaut.

SpaceX has flown a used rocket booster three times before. And it's launched a used Dragon spacecraft once before. Friday marked the first time both the rocket and spacecraft used at launch had already made grueling trips to space.

This was the first launch for SpaceX since October 30. It's endured a series of delays for various reasons.

One mission, a top-secret launch for the U.S. government, was supposed to occur in mid-November, but it's since been delayed until January. SpaceX cited an issue with the rocket's fairing -- the very top portion of the rocket that can house a payload, such as a satellite -- as the issue.

Friday's mission didn't need a fairing because the Dragon spacecraft can fly solo atop the Falcon 9.

But this space station mission wasn't exactly on time. It was delayed once to allow for additional "ground system checks," and again when SpaceX detected "particles" in the second-stage rocket booster's fuel system.

Nonetheless, SpaceX has had a stunning comeback year. Last year, SpaceX suffered a major setback when one of its rockets spontaneously exploded on the launch pad in September, destroying the payload.

That left the company grounded for months.

But SpaceX had a stellar rebound in 2017 by executing 17 launches -- more than any other private-sector launch provider in the world. That makes it the firm's busiest year yet.

For comparison, SpaceX launched just eight times in 2016.

The company has one more launch slated for 2017 on December 22.

West Lafayette
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 83°
Kokomo
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 83°
Rensselaer
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Fowler
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 80°
Williamsport
Scattered Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 81°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 82°
Delphi
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Monticello
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Logansport
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 81°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events