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SpaceX rocket sends robot pal to space station

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, sending an AI-enabled, sphere-shaped robot companion to keep the International Space Station’s crew company.

The European CIMON robot, complete with a video-screen smiley face, is packed aboard an uncrewed Dragon capsule along with nearly three tons of additional experiments and supplies for the space station.

Launch came at 5:41 a.m. ET (2:41 a.m. PT) after a trouble-free countdown. The rocket ascended to eastward just before sunrise, producing spectacular views of the illuminated exhaust plume in the sky.

“I’m glad I got the opportunity to see the Dragon’s Tail in person,” one of the spectators, Taylor Harris, said in a tweet.

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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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