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SpaceX launches inflatable space habitat to ISS, rocket lands on droneship for 1st time

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:42, April 09, 2016

WASHINGTON, April 8 -- U.S. space firm SpaceX resumed its resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, carrying aboard an experimental inflatable space habitat that might be crucial for future deep space explorations.

The California-based company also made history by landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean, after it launched the Dragon spacecraft at 4:43 p.m. (2043 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This was SpaceX's eighth cargo mission to the ISS. It also marked the first flight of Dragon to the ISS since June, when the Falcon 9 rocket exploded about two minutes after liftoff.

As usual, SpaceX attempted to land the Falcon 9's first stage on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast.

Minutes later, the company posted a photo via Twitter in which the first stage is clearly seen standing on the deck of the ship.

NASA offered a congratulation via Twitter to SpaceX for the successful landing and sending the unmanned Dragon to the orbiting laboratory.

It's the first time SpaceX has been able to stick a landing on a droneship after four previous such attempts ended in failure. It also achieved one successful soft landing on a land-based pad at Cape Canaveral in December last year.



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