SpaceX launches from historic moon pad

SpaceX launch
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket rises from Launch Complex 39A. (NASA via YouTube)

SpaceX sent a rocket rising from NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A today for the first time since the space shuttle fleet retired, marking a new chapter for a pad that served as the springboard for Apollo moon missions.

The Falcon 9 rocket sent a robotic Dragon capsule toward the International Space Station with almost 5,500 pounds of supplies and experiments, under the terms of SpaceX’s multimillion-dollar contract with NASA.

As a bonus, the rocket’s first-stage booster flew itself back to a perfect touchdown at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1, not far from the Kennedy Space Center launch site in Florida. That’s part of SpaceX’s plan for reusing hardware and driving down the cost of space launches even further.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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