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SpaceX launches Cargo Dragon to ISS, catches booster on new ship for first time

SpaceX has successfully launched a Cargo Dragon resupply ship on its way to the International Space Station (ISS), where it will deliver both scientific experiments and supplies for the crew. The Dragon was launched using a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:14 a.m. ET (12:14 a.m. PT) on Sunday, August 29, after a one-day delay from its original launch date due to poor weather.

The Dragon will now travel to the space station throughout Sunday before arriving at around 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) on Monday, August 30. This marks SpaceX’s 23rd resupply mission to the ISS.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Cargo Dragon spacecraft toward the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Cargo Dragon spacecraft toward the International Space Station. NASA TV

In the most recent update from NASA on the progress of the Dragon, it confirmed that the nosecone was open and the spacecraft had reached orbit and was on its way to the space station: “Dragon’s nosecone is open, and the spacecraft is safely in orbit following a launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:14 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying more than 4,800 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the International Space Station.”

A notable success of this launch was the catching of the first stage booster on SpaceX’s new droneship. The booster is only necessary for the first part of a launch, providing fuel for the difficult climb through the atmosphere against gravity. Once the rocket has reached a certain height, the booster is no longer needed and falls back to Earth. SpaceX has perfected the art of catching these boosters after a launch and reusing them, which should make space launches cheaper in the long run. The company recently debuted its newest droneship for catching boosters, named A Shortfall of Gravitas, which made its first catch yesterday.

SpaceX shared footage of the booster coming in to land on the droneship as well:

Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on A Shortfall of Gravitas – first landing on this droneship!

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 29, 2021

Once the Dragon arrives at the ISS it will dock autonomously with the Harmony module, attaching to the forward-facing port. The docking will be overseen by two members of the ISS crew, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur. You can watch the docking live as it will be shown on NASA TV, with coverage beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET (6:30 a.m. PT) on Monday.

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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