11am ET update: Friday’s launch went off without a hitch, with the Falcon 9 booster sending a Dragon spacecraft into orbit around the International Space Station. Then the first stage made a safe—albeit a little soot—a near-perfect landing on Earth. This marks the company’s 20th successful landing overall and 16th in a row.
Original message: SpaceX will attempt to send a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station Friday morning, with an immediate launch window opening at 10:36 a.m. ET. There are some clouds at the launch site, but the overall weather conditions today seem favorable for a launch.
Perhaps the bigger question is whether the technical issues have been resolved with the launch. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, SpaceX pushed back a day to Wednesday for additional pre-launch ground system checks. Then the company postponed until Friday because it detected “particles” in the fuel system of the rocket’s second stage. As a result, it had to perform “full inspections and cleanings”.
The rocket went vertical at Space Launch Complex-40 early Friday, boosting confidence that a flight will take place today. The Dragon spacecraft atop the rocket will carry 4,800 pounds of crew supplies and payloads, as well as more than 250 science and research payloads. About eight minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 first stage will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1.
Friday’s mission is noteworthy for several reasons. This year, SpaceX has already reflown three of its Falcon 9 rockets and repurposed a Dragon spacecraft for a station resupply mission. This mission combines both and marks the first time SpaceX has used a “flight-proven” booster for a NASA launch and paired it with a used Dragon spacecraft. This booster first flew in July, and the spacecraft first flew to the station in 2015.
This launch attempt also marks a return to a launch pad that was damaged when a Falcon 9 rocket and its satellite payload exploded in September 2016. Since then, the company says it has repaired the damage and made significant upgrades to Space Launch Complex 40. The webcast below should start about 15 minutes before the launch window opens.