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SpaceX Florida launch is the second Dragon mission this month destined for ISS

By Jamie Groh, Florida Today,


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A busy week of Space Coast launches kicked off Tuesday evening when a SpaceX Falcon 9 and uncrewed Dragon cargo vessel destined for the International Space Station vaulted away from Kennedy Space Center.

Taking flight from pad 39A at 8:30 p.m. EDT, the company's 27th space station cargo resupply mission for NASA featured nearly 6,300 pounds of science investigations and experiments , as well as fresh food and supplies packed into Dragon.

The spacecraft will spend about 35 hours in orbit "chasing" the station before an autonomous docking slated for 7:52 a.m. EDT on Thursday, March 16. Dragon will stay docked at the station for about a month before returning for splashdown and recovery.

Shortly after launch, the Falcon 9 first stage booster somersaulted for its return trip, landing on a SpaceX drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Following SpaceX's launch of three NASA astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut to the space station less than two weeks ago, Tuesday's liftoff marked the second Dragon launch this month.

One of the included investigations, aimed at testing 3D-printed components in space , is from L3Harris. The Melbourne-based aerospace and defense company sent up a 3D-printed radio circuit to test its capabilities in a microgravity environment. Results from the study could one day inform in-space satellite production practices to make spacecraft manufacturing more efficient and affordable.

At the request of astronauts living on the space station, also stashed in Dragon were "apples, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, cherry tomatoes, as well as a few different cheeses," according to NASA's Phil Dempsey, transportation manager for the space station.

Tuesday's launch could be the first of at least two more set to fly from the Space Coast in the coming days.

Though still unconfirmed by SpaceX, teams at the Cape's nearby Launch Complex 40 are also readying a Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff Friday between 7:28 p.m. and 8:26 p.m. EDT. That mission is slated to send two data and TV service satellites to orbit for Luxembourg-based operator SES.

Monday afternoon may bring Relativity Space's third attempt to launch the world's first mostly 3D-printed rocket , Terran 1, from the Cape's Launch Complex 16. Federal marine warnings point to a liftoff between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. EDT Monday, March 20. An official confirmation from the company is expected soon.

Look for FLORIDA TODAY's live coverage of both missions to begin 90 minutes before liftoff at .

For the latest, visit .

Jamie Groh is a space reporter for Florida Today. You can contact her at Follow her on Twitter at @AlteredJamie .

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: SpaceX Florida launch is the second Dragon mission this month destined for ISS

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