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SpaceX Launches First Recycled Cargo Ship to the International Space Station

06 June 2017

A SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched a Dragon spacecraft June 3 making its second trip to the International Space Station.

This was the eleventh Commercial Resupply Services mission - dubbed CRS-11 - from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station on Monday, June 5 to be installed on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module for its month-long stay.

The company has already revolutionized the spaceflight industry by recovering the first stage of its Falcon 9 rockets multiple times for re-use. Even though we should be used to launches and landings, the SpaceX landed its fifth Flacon 9 rocket booster, and we can't help but feel emotional.

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Eventually, SpaceX hopes to keep reusing its Dragon cargo capsules moving forward. Expedition 52 Flight Engineers Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson of NASA will be at the controls of the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release Cygnus at 9:10 a.m. NASA TV coverage of the spacecraft's departure will begin at 8:30 a.m. NASA tends to be extra cautious about taking on added risks, though NASA ISS program manager Kirk Shireman said NASA is "working on" approving flights with used rockets.

"Four of ACME's experiments are created to improve our understanding of flame behavior for practical use on Earth", Dennis Stocker, ACME project scientist at NASA's Glenn Research Center, said in a news release.

Saturday was a historic launch date for SpaceX and NASA, with the Dragon being the first of its kind to be relaunched, coinciding with the 100th launch from the Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The firm hopes to continue this launch cadence through the end of the year with as many as 12 more rockets from various launch pads expected to take to the skies.

The first-stage booster was brand new, but as is now the custom, it returned to Cape Canaveral after liftoff for a vertical touchdown. But over the past decade-plus, SpaceX - and a few other competing private space companies like Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance and Orbital ATK - have upended that notion.

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The last time this particular spaceship flew to space was in 2014.

So far, that makes five successful landings ashore to add to a handful of drone ship landings, which took a little longer to ideal.

NASA spokesperson Kathryn Hambleton confirmed to Xinhua that there is a Chinese experiment that is launched on this mission, known as SpaceX CRS-11.

Koenigsmann said it's "a pretty big deal". SpaceX has been upping the cadence of its launches as of late. The capsule, which was last sent carrying supplies to the ISS in September 2014, has nearly the same parts from its earlier flight.

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