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Cool footage shot from a helicopter shows SpaceX’s latest rocket launch

SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon 9 rocket for the International Space Station (ISS) on the morning of Sunday, December 6.

The rocket and upgraded Cargo Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 11:17 a.m. ET.

The uncrewed Cargo Dragon is carrying supplies for the ISS crew and is set to dock with the orbiting outpost on Monday, December 7.

Later in the day, the commercial space company led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk posted stunning footage of the launch, shot from a nearby helicopter (below).

Tracking footage from a helicopter of today’s Falcon 9 launch off LC-39A

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 7, 2020

SpaceX’s 21st resupply mission to the ISS also marks the debut outing of its revamped Cargo Dragon spacecraft. The updated model can dock autonomously with the ISS, unlike its recently retired predecessor which had to be “captured” by the station’s robot arm as part of the docking process.

The spacecraft’s launch on Sunday means the current mission will see the ISS host two Dragon spacecraft for the very first time — the Crew Dragon, which docked at the ISS in November carrying four astronauts on the spacecraft’s first operational mission, and the newly designed Cargo Dragon, which, unlike the astronaut-carrying version, contains no seats, leaving more room for supplies.

As usual, SpaceX’s first-stage Falcon 9 booster made a safe return to Earth, landing upright on its droneship, Of Course I Still Love You, which was waiting in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. The footage of this event, however, was less impressive …

Falcon 9 booster has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 6, 2020

SpaceX also posted footage of the moment the Cargo Dragon separated from the second stage to begin its solo journey to the space station. The spacecraft is carrying around 6,400 pounds of cargo that includes food, clothing, and science experiments.

Dragon separation confirmed; the spacecraft is on its way to the @space_station. Autonomous docking tomorrow at approximately 1:30 p.m. EST

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 6, 2020

Last month NASA and its international partners celebrated 20 years of continuous human aboard the space station. Check out these videos showing how astronauts work, rest, and play on the ISS.

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