SpaceX has now successfully landed six rockets on solid ground.
The Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 12:31PM ET yesterday with cargo bound for the International Space Station. Eight minutes after takeoff main launch rocket landed back on solid ground on the Florida coast.
This marks SpaceX’s 14th successful rocket landing, and the sixth time successful time that a Falcon 9 has touched down on solid ground post-launch. While the SpaceX has lost a couple of rockets during ocean landings they have yet to lose a rocket during a ground landing – an amazing feat of modern engineering.
This was the first launch for SpaceX in over a month. The delay in launches has been due to the temporary closure of the ‘Eastern Range’ (the area on the East Coast of the USA that supports rocket launches). Cape Canaveral has undergone maintenance which has meant that there have not been any launches out of the United States since early July.
The mission yesterday saw a Falcon 9 rocket carry a Dragon cargo capsule containing 6,400 pounds of supplies and science experiments for the crew on the International Space Station. The capsule will spend a few days in orbit before rendezvousing with the International Space Station on Wednesday.
Alongside the normal batch of science experiments and standard supplies (importantly for the crew, this shipment contains fresh rations of ice-cream) this launch also contained something special.
14-year-old Alia Almansoori, who attends Al Mawakeb School Al Barsha in Dubai, was a winner of the Genes in Space student scientist competition. Loaded on the Dragon capsule on was her winning experiment in the UAE Genes in Space competition, sponsored by The National, the UAE Space Agency and Boeing.
— ISS Research (@ISS_Research) August 14, 2017
Once her experiment is on board, two astronauts will perform Alia’s experiment using samples developed by the pupil with help from Harvard University and carried out a miniPCR (a machine which can replicate genetic material and test it under a number of conditions). Her experiment has a number of applications, including researching diseases and seeing if it is possible to test human genomes in space – something which has never been done before.
If successful they will help humans better prepare for the radiation experienced in deep space flights.