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SpaceX takes rocket reusability to new heights

Falcon 9 liftoff
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (NASA via YouTube)

For the first time, SpaceX has sent a refurbished Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station from a refurbished launch pad, atop a refurbished Falcon 9 rocket.

The Falcon lifted off at 10:35 a.m. ET (7:35 a.m. PT) today from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

It’s the first mission to take off from Pad 40 since an earlier Falcon 9 went up in flames during a pre-launch test in September 2016, doing significant damage to the complex.

It’s taken SpaceX that long to finish its repairs and upgrades. In the meantime, the California-based company has been using Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for Falcon 9 launches. Switching back to Pad 40 will free up 39A for the maiden launch of SpaceX’s super-sized Falcon Heavy rocket, a closely watched event that’s currently set for next month.

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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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