The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches a Dragon spacecraft from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday. Photo by Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell/UPI | License Photo
ORLANDO, Fla., July 25 (UPI) -- SpaceX successfully launched its 18th cargo flight to the International Space Station from Florida Thursday evening.
The rocket lifted off at 6:01 p.m., from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Earlier Air Force weather predictions indicated a low chance for launch but the weather improved dramatically, shortly before launch time. The launch was delayed on Wednesday due to rainclouds.
The Dragon spacecraft, riding on top of the rocket, is headed to deliver supplies, science equipment and a new docking mechanism that will be used for spacecraft carrying people. Liftoff occurred from Launch Complex 40.
The reusable booster for the rocket landed at the Air Force station after launch, causing sonic booms on the Space Coast and over parts of central Florida.
It's the third time SpaceX has launched this particular capsule; it previously carried cargo into space in April 2015 and in December 2017.
The mission is expected to fly for two days before docking at ISS. NASA astronaut Nick Hague, who is on board the space station, is set to retrieve the spacecraft during the docking maneuver.
Among the private companies sending 17 research projects to the space station are Goodyear, Nickelodeon, drugmaker AstraZeneca and nScrypt, an Orlando company that is sending a 3D printer to space to make human tissue.
The ISS National Lab is sponsoring 25 separate payloads on SpaceX CRS-18, a new high for a resupply mission. The lab says the demand for space-based research and development continues to increase as more companies try new science experiments in a microgravity environment.