A privately constructed rocket blasted off
Friday on a cargo run to the International Space Station (ISS),
lifting off without a hitch from a launch pad in Cape Canaveral,
On its third flight to the ISS, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was topped by a Dragon 9 capsule, holding some 1050 kilograms of supplies and scientific experiments. It is due to dock with the station on Saturday.
"SpaceX continues the US mission to resupply the International Space Station from US soil," a NASA official said as the white rocket lifted into the air atop its nine Merlin engines.
It will stay at the station until March 25, when it will carry some 2,000 kilograms of cargo back to earth and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
The first demonstration flight took place in May, while an October mission marked the first of 12 planned resupply missions to the station under a 1.6-billion-dollar contract between SpaceX and NASA.
SpaceX is a private company established by Elon Musk, the founder of electronic payments firm PayPal and electric car company Tesla.
SpaceX's rockets are meant to play a vital role in resupplying the ISS following the retirement of the space shuttle fleet last year. Another company, Orbital Science Corp, has a separate NASA contract to begin deliveries to the space station later this year.
Cargo can also be delivered to the space station on Russian, Japanese and European transports, but only SpaceX currently has the capability to bring cargo back down.
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