This week SpaceX, Elon Musk’s aerospace and transport company, expects to launch one of its reusable rockets to the International Space Station with 4,800 lbs. of NASA payload on board.
The company’s Falcon 9 rocket will carry a Dragon capsule (also reused from a previous mission) packed with research materials, crew supplies, and hardware for the ISS. The launch is planned for 11:23 a.m. Eastern Time on December 13 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Fla. It was originally scheduled for Dec. 12 but delayed to allow more time for ground systems checks.
SpaceX has had a series of high-profile successes and flops in its pursuit of improved economics for space transport. In March it made industry history by successfully launching and landing a reusable rocket; six months before that, it watched as one of its Falcon 9 rockets exploded during refueling for a so-called test fire.
The ISS mission, which will be funded by American taxpayers, will feature a rebuilt and redesigned launchpad that cost SpaceX $50 million, according to a Wired report. It will be able to withstand stronger winds and manipulate the rocket with more speed, which in turn will allow for more launches in a given time frame.