End of an Era for SpaceX

SpaceX Launches 20th NASA Mission, Nails 50th Landing

by Neal Freyman

SpaceX launches rocket in GIF

Twelve years ago, SpaceX won a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to send supplies to the International Space Station.

Friday night, in super windy conditions at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX launched the 20th and final delivery using its Dragon capsule under that original contract. Starting in October, it’ll substitute the Dragon with the next-generation Dragon 2, which is bigger and built for human crews.

  • As is always the case with SpaceX, it’s less about the launch and more about the landing. The company landed its rocket booster for the 50th time in five years.
  • Reusing rockets is key to SpaceX’s mission of making space travel more affordable.

Also pretty cool: Along with ISS cargo, the mission took dozens of mini science experiments to space, some funded by private companies.

  • Adidas sent up foam particles from its Boost shoe line to see how they’d behave in microgravity.
  • Delta Faucet Company will be observing how water droplets form in space—apparently, that’ll help it improve one of its showerheads.
  • Luxembourg startup Space Cargo Unlimited sent up 320 snippets of grapevines.

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