A towering white rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. and sped toward the International Space Station in a resupply mission that heralds a new era for NASA.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched at 5:35 p.m. PDT Sunday from Space Launch Complex 40, carrying a Dragon capsule packed with 1,000 pounds of food, experiments and supplies. The spacecraft is expected to reach the space station Wednesday.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, is aiming to become the first private company to resupply the space station on a contracted mission for NASA.
“We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission,” Elon Musk, SpaceX’s 41-year-old billionaire founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “We still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon’s approach to the space station. But the launch was an unqualified success.”
With last year’s retirement of the space shuttle fleet, NASA is eager to give private industry the job of carrying cargo and crews. Hawthorne-based SpaceX has a $1.6-billion contract to carry out 12 such cargo missions for NASA in the coming years.