SpaceX launches new cargo resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX has launched a Dragon spacecraft carrying 6,000lb of research equipment, cargo and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) from Nasa's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, US.
Carried out by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the launch was the 11th cargo resupply mission to the ISS conducted under a contract between Nasa and SpaceX.
It has also marked the first reflight of a Dragon spacecraft, which was previously used in the fourth Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-4) mission in September 2014.
After completing stage separation, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed at SpaceX’s landing site at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
During the mission, the Dragon spacecraft carried an experiment studying fruit flies to better understand the effects on the heart of prolonged exposure to microgravity. The spacecraft will stay at the ISS for a month.
According to Nasa, the experiment has the potential to advance the understanding of how spaceflight affects the cardiovascular system and assists the development of countermeasures to help astronauts.
Among other instruments, the spacecraft also carried three payloads that will demonstrate new solar panel technologies, study the physics of neutron stars and host an array of Earth-viewing instruments.
The payload will also support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations going on inside the ISS.
Scheduled to be returned from the station by early July, the spacecraft will bring more than 3,400lb of science, hardware and crew supplies with it.
Image: The SpaceX Dragon cargo craft lifted off from Nasa's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of Nasa TV.