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 8:42 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2017 8:42 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 90017

Reported Deaths: 2017
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25857922
Ramsey10492318
Dakota7125125
Anoka5753132
Stearns377023
Washington357355
Scott242633
Olmsted228727
Nobles193116
Blue Earth15986
Wright15337
St. Louis135234
Carver13517
Rice13018
Mower12864
Clay126140
Sherburne109314
Kandiyohi9312
Winona85018
Lyon6464
Waseca5328
Steele5212
Freeborn5163
Benton5113
Watonwan5054
Nicollet49916
Todd4792
McLeod4462
Chisago4441
Le Sueur4444
Crow Wing43318
Otter Tail3924
Beltrami3764
Goodhue3309
Martin3199
Pine2810
Itasca27713
Polk2734
Isanti2580
Douglas2491
Becker2442
Carlton2391
Cottonwood2190
Pipestone2129
Unassigned20952
Morrison2031
Dodge1990
Chippewa1921
Sibley1793
Meeker1772
Wabasha1740
Brown1732
Yellow Medicine1582
Murray1542
Rock1520
Mille Lacs1453
Redwood1400
Jackson1331
Faribault1320
Renville1286
Cass1253
Roseau1160
Swift1141
Pennington1121
Houston1100
Fillmore1080
Kanabec1058
Koochiching1053
Lincoln1020
Stevens931
Pope880
Hubbard820
Aitkin711
Big Stone680
Wadena650
Grant584
Wilkin553
Lake530
Norman510
Marshall491
Lac qui Parle460
Mahnomen451
Red Lake390
Traverse300
Clearwater260
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 80106

Reported Deaths: 1256
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15318256
Johnson499527
Woodbury498961
Black Hawk434986
Linn3783106
Story328617
Dubuque279840
Scott279727
Dallas269038
Pottawattamie200037
Buena Vista194712
Marshall176134
Sioux13503
Wapello126757
Webster119314
Clinton107018
Muscatine106452
Plymouth105220
Crawford10014
Cerro Gordo99621
Warren9286
Jasper76632
Des Moines7417
Marion7154
Tama69031
Carroll6345
Henry6074
Lee5967
Wright5621
Dickinson4856
Boone4677
Bremer4627
Washington43111
Louisa42515
Mahaska34019
Franklin33617
Delaware3353
Hamilton3143
Jackson3003
Floyd2983
Winneshiek2985
Clay2923
Benton2861
Hardin2761
Winnebago27111
Butler2592
Clarke2553
Emmet25210
Poweshiek2498
Lyon2483
Allamakee2455
Jones2443
Buchanan2421
Shelby2421
Clayton2323
Guthrie2235
Cedar2211
Chickasaw2210
Kossuth2190
Sac2140
Grundy2052
Madison2052
Cherokee1942
Fayette1911
Iowa1851
Mitchell1830
Howard1825
Harrison1782
Humboldt1733
Hancock1722
Calhoun1702
Mills1681
Palo Alto1600
Pocahontas1522
Monroe14810
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Page1420
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Cass1332
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Taylor1231
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Ida970
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