A SpaceX-built spacecraft took off Saturday aboard the company's Falcon 9 rocket to deliver approximately 6,000 pounds of scientific instruments and crew supplies to the International Space Station, Space.com reported Saturday.
The Dragon spacecraft's launch from NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center in Florida marks the first time that SpaceX used a refurbished second stage as well as the company's 11th cargo delivery mission under the Commercial Resupply Services contract.
The reused Dragon capsule initially launched in September 2014 as part of the fourth cargo resupply mission and returned to Earth after a month through a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of flight reusability at SpaceX, said CRS-11 was the company's seventh launch this year and that SpaceX will use a “refurbished first stage“ for the next launch.
Scientific experiments and tools onboard the spacecraft include Earth-viewing instruments, solar panel systems, a fruit fly study that intends to investigate the effects of prolonged microgravity exposure on the heart and the NELL-1 investigation that seeks to test an experimental drug for osteoporosis, NASA said Sunday.
Dragon is expected to reach the space laboratory today and astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer will use a robotic arm to capture the vehicle.
The spacecraft is set to leave the orbiting laboratory in early July with approximately 3,400 pounds of hardware, scientific tools and crew supplies.
The mission came nearly three months after SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a reused lower stage to send a communications satellite into orbit.