The Dragon capsule was loaded with more than 6,400 pounds (2,900 kilograms) of supplies. The 213-foot-tall (65-meter) rocket took off from pad 39A at the Florida spaceport at 12:31:37 p.m. EDT (1631:37 GMT), pitched toward the northeast to align with the space station’s orbit.
In a maneuver now common during SpaceX launches, the first stage flipped around with guided pulses of cold nitrogen gas to point tail first, then reignited three of its Merlin engines to boost itself back forward Cape Canaveral. The descending rocket landed on a concrete target at Landing Zone 1 less than eight minutes after liftoff, around 9 miles (15 kilometers) south of the Falcon 9’s departure point at pad 39A. “It’s a great pre-flown booster ready to go for the next time,” said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of flight reliability. With Monday’s launch, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket family has accomplished 39 missions since debuting in 2010. SpaceX has landed the Falcon 9’s first stage intact 14 times in 19 tries. SpaceX has landed the Falcon 9’s first stage intact 14 times in 19 tries. The supercomputer sent now to space,developed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, will spend at least a year on the space station, helping engineers gauge the ruggedness of commercial computer components in the harsh conditions of space.