The Falcon 9 lifted off with the Dragon Capsule amid cheers from onlookers
SpaceX Launches Used Dragon Capsule to the ISS, for a Historic 3rd Time
SpaceX launched its 18th cargo mission to the International Space Station on July 25th, after a one day delay caused by bad weather. The two stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 6:01pm EDT (22:01 GMT) from the launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with the Dragon cargo capsule towards the orbiting lab setting off raucous cheers from the crowd of anxious onlookers who had gathered.
CRS-18 was the 18th mission undertaken by SpaceX in its commercial cargo resupply services contract with NASA. This was the 7th overall to feature a preflown Dragon but the first time that the same dragon capsule had been used for the third time with the first being CRS-6 in April 2015 and CRS-13 in December, 2017 being the other. According to SpaceX, they have 15 Dragon Capsules with each being used just 3 times before it is retired. One dragon capsule is used once every 1.5 years on average. Each of the next two cargo resupply missions (CRS-19 and CRS-20) will also mark the third time that those respective dragon capsules are also being used for the third time.
SpaceX and NASA used the event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. Apollo 11 ended 50 years ago when it splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean on July 24th, 1969. The Dragon capsule was sporting two ISS decals with another to mark this special event. At the pre-launch news conference, Bill Specht, the NASA deputy manager of ISS Transport Integration said, ‘Historically today, we were able to complete Kennedy’s challenge to get men to the moon.” He further added that NASA and SpaceX wanted to honor not only the Apollo 11 astronauts but also Chris Kraft, who passed away on Monday, 22nd July at the age of 95. Kraft was NASA’s first flight director. Specht described him as the founder for mission control and laid the ground work of how we operate in space today. The Dragon capsule is expected to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Pacific according to SpaceX.