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NASA says a used SpaceX rocket booster will hoist supplies to the space station next week

NASA says a used SpaceX rocket booster will hoist supplies to the space station next week
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on June 3, 2017, with supplies for the International Space Station. The first-stage booster from this rocket is to be reused on another space station resupply mission scheduled for next week. (Bill Ingalls / NASA)

NASA will rely on a previously used SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage booster next week to carry supplies to the International Space Station, marking a first for the agency.

The booster first flew in June on a mission to deliver supplies to the space station. After separating from the second stage, the booster returned to Earth for a landing at SpaceX’s landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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NASA officials discussed the decision at a meeting Wednesday of the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA said in a statement that it participated in a “broad range of SpaceX data assessments and inspections” concerning the use of a previously launched first stage. Booster reuse for future NASA missions will be considered on a “case-by-case basis,” the agency said.

NASA had said over the summer that it wanted to take its time and review results before signing off on a used first-stage rocket for a space station resupply mission. Though this is the first time the agency will utilize a used SpaceX booster, NASA has used a refurbished Dragon cargo capsule to haul supplies to the space station.

SpaceX has launched three used first-stage boosters to date, all for commercial customers.

The cargo resupply mission is set to launch no earlier than Dec. 8 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral.

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