SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station on Star Wars Day

Falcon 9, which Elon Musk reportedly named after the iconic Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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SpaceX launched a rocket loaded with supplies for the International Space Station on Star Wars Day.

Falcon 9, which Elon Musk reportedly named after the iconic Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX continued to tout the Star Wars Day connection as the craft blasted off.

“Dragon is now officially on the way to the space station,” the SpaceX launch commentator announced once the capsule reached orbit and its solar wings unfurled. “Until next time, May the Fourth be with you.”

The shipment is set to arrive on Monday

The Star Wars catchphrase is usually “may the force be with you”, with fans adapting it on May 4.

​The rocket raced into the pre-dawn darkness, carrying a Dragon capsule with 2,500 kilograms of goods and is due to arrive at the orbiting lab Monday.

It set off from Cape Canaveral

Its booster streaked to a smooth landing on a recovery ship just offshore.

The delivery is a few days late because of electrical power shortages which emerged first at the space station then at SpaceX’s rocket-landing platform in the Atlantic.

It is the 17th shipment being delivered by SpaceX to the ISS

Both problems were quickly resolved with equipment replacements.

Minutes after liftoff, SpaceX landed its brand new first-stage booster on the ocean platform roughly 16 kilometres off the coast, considerably closer than usual with the sonic booms easily heard at the launch site.

“That looked really, really cool in the night sky,” said Hans Koenigsmann, a SpaceX vice president.

He had left his launch control seat to run outside and watch.

SpaceX has been restocking the space station since 2012 and this latest cargo Dragon, the company’s 17th shipment, is carrying equipment and experiments for the six space station astronauts, including an instrument to monitor carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

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SpaceX launches supplies to space station, confirms crew capsule destroyed

SpaceX launched a load of supplies to the International Space Station on Saturday following a pair of unusual power delays. The launch came two …

SpaceX launched a load of supplies to the International Space Station on Saturday following a pair of unusual power delays. The launch came two days after the company confirmed its crew capsule was destroyed in ground testing two weeks ago and conceded that the accident is “not great news” for its effort to launch astronauts this year.

A Falcon rocket raced into the pre-dawn darkness, carrying a Dragon capsule with 5,500 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of goods. This recycled Dragon — which is making its second space trip — is due to arrive at the orbiting lab Monday.

The booster, meanwhile, streaked to a smooth landing on a recovery ship just offshore.

“This is usually a routine task for SpaceX,” CNN reported. “But the latest launch, originally scheduled for earlier this week, was plagued by unusual hangups on its path to the launch pad, including a rare electrical issue aboard the space station.”

SpaceX couldn’t resist the Star Wars Day connection — Saturday is May 4, the unofficial Star Wars holiday, i.e. “May the Fourth be with you.”

“Dragon is now officially on the way to the space station,” the SpaceX launch commentator announced once the capsule reached orbit and its solar wings unfurled. “Until next time, May the Fourth be with you.”

The Dragon spacecraft is capable of carrying up to 7 passengers to and from Earth orbit, and beyond, according to SpaceX. The pressurized section of the capsule is designed to carry both people and environmentally sensitive cargo. Towards the base of the capsule and contained within the nose cone are the Draco thrusters, which allow for orbital maneuvering.

Dragon’s trunk not only carries unpressurized cargo but also supports the spacecraft during ascent. The trunk remains attached to Dragon until shortly before reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, the company adds.

With Ripley on board, six-day test flight set for SpaceX Dragon capsule

The Saturday delivery is a few days late because of electrical power shortages that cropped up first at the space station, then at SpaceX’s rocket-landing platform in the Atlantic. Both problems were quickly resolved with equipment replacements: a power-switching unit in orbit and a generator at sea.

Minutes after liftoff, SpaceX landed its brand new, first-stage booster on the ocean platform roughly 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the coast, considerably closer than usual with the sonic booms easily heard at the launch site.

“That looked really, really cool in the night sky,” said Hans Koenigsmann, a SpaceX vice president who left his launch control seat to run outside and watch.

The booster likely will be reused for SpaceX’s next station supply run. That’s why the company and NASA halted Friday’s countdown at the last minute — so the recovery ship could be repaired and have full power for the landing operation. It was the first time a launch like this was nixed by rocket-landing concerns.

The booster should have returned to Cape Canaveral, but SpaceX is still cleaning up from the April 20 accident that destroyed an empty crew Dragon capsule.

SpaceX, one of the world’s most valuable private companies, gets more valuable

Koenigsmann said earlier this week the company still does not know what caused the empty capsule to burst apart in flames on a test stand. The capsule’s SuperDraco launch-abort thrusters were just a half-second from firing when the blast occurred.

This first crew capsule had completed a successful test flight, minus a crew, to the space station in March. SpaceX intended to refly the capsule on a launch-abort test in June, ahead of the first flight with astronauts on a new crew Dragon. The schedule is now up in the air, as SpaceX scrambles to identify and correct whatever went wrong.

SpaceX has been restocking the station since 2012.

This latest cargo Dragon — making the company’s 17th shipment — is carrying equipment and experiments for the six space station astronauts, including an instrument to monitor carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

The California-based company is also under contract with NASA, along with Boeing, to transport astronauts to the space station. It’s unclear whether these commercial crew flights will begin this year, given the Dragon accident and Boeing’s own delays with its Starliner capsule.

Astronauts have not launched from Cape Canaveral since the last space shuttle mission in 2011, instead riding Russian rockets at a steep cost to NASA.

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Watch: SpaceX rockets blasts off from Cape Canaveral

Barely 24 hours before the launch, a test of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule was also disrupted by an explosion, something SpaceX labelled “an …

After several delays, SpaceX’s Dragon supply ship has finally taken off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral base.

The private spacecraft took off around 3 am local time on Saturday, ending a lead-up to the supply mission that was plagued by unusual delays. The craft’s reusable boosters usefully landed on floating platforms in the ocean, known as Droneships.

The spacecraft, tasked with transporting essential supplies to the International Space Station, had been scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but it was delayed as controllers attempted to fix an issue with the electrical distribution unit. The failure left the craft operating at only 75% of its usual power supply.

Barely 24 hours before the launch, a test of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule was also disrupted by an explosion, something SpaceX labelled “an anomaly”.

That fix was successful, and the spacecraft now heads to the International Space Station, a journey which is expected to take at least two days.

This is SpaceX’s 17th supply mission for NASA. The private company was contracted to transport a payload of almost 3 tonnes which included technology that will be used to map and measure Carbon Dioxide levels in the earth’s atmosphere.

Controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk founded the company SpaceX in 2002, with the aim of making space travel affordable for all.

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SpaceX launches mission to resupply International Space Station after series of delays

SpaceX launched its mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) early Saturday morning after a series of delays. The Dragon 1 …

SpaceX launched its mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) early Saturday morning after a series of delays.

The Dragon 1 spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., just before 3 a.m., the company said in a statement. The spacecraft is expected to attach to the ISS on Monday.

Dragon is on its way to the International Space Station! Capture by the @Space_Station crew set for early Monday morning pic.twitter.com/oGs4IrBW9h

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 4, 2019

Saturday’s launch marks the 17th SpaceX mission of its kind for NASA. The spacecraft is filled with 5,500 pounds of supplies to aid more than 250 research studies, according to the company. After four weeks at the ISS, Dragon is expected to return to earth.

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The spacecraft was originally expected to launch earlier this week, but was delayed due to issues including an electrical problem at the space station, according to CNN.

SpaceX was also delayed after having its own electrical issue with its droneship, a landing platform for rocket boosters, which allows the boosters to be used again later.

NASA’s International Space Station Operations and Integration manager in Houston praised Saturday’s launch.

“If you have to be up, I can’t think of a better reason than to see one of these launches — it was absolutely spectacular,” said manager Kenny Todd, according to NASA. “We’re really excited to get Dragon on board in a couple of days.”

Success! This morning, @SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft launched on a mission to deliver more than 5,500 pounds of cargo to the crew living and working aboard the @Space_Station. Get the details: https://t.co/bZHz596X5npic.twitter.com/Rqv70jx986

— NASA (@NASA) May 4, 2019

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It’s Star Wars Day and SpaceX Just Launched Its Own ‘Falcon’ Into Space

It may not be the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but a SpaceX “Falcon” launched into space today just in time for Star Wars …

It may not be the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, but a SpaceX “Falcon” launched into space today just in time for Star Wars Day.

The Falcon 9 rocket (which SpaceX CEO Elon Musk named in honor of the fictional Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars”) launched a Dragon resupply ship filled with NASA cargo from Florida’s Cape Cape Canaveral Air Force Station this morning. By coincidence, the mission launched on May 4, or May the Fourth, as fans of the “Star Wars” film franchise call it.

“May the Fourth be with you,” SpaceX manufacturing engineer Jessica Anderson said while signing off the company’s live launch commentary, a callback to the “May the Force be with you” phrase of the Jedi in the “Star Wars” films. NASA spokesperson Jennifer Wolfinger also echoed those words in the space agency’s own broadcast.

Related: The Best ‘Star Wars Day’ Deals for May the Fourth!

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo ship for NASA lifts off from Space Complex 40 at Cape Canveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2019.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo ship for NASA lifts off from Space Complex 40 at Cape Canveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2019.

(Image: © NASA/Kim Shiflett)

SpaceX has developed three types of Falcon rockets over the years: the small Falcon 1, the workhorse Falcon 9 and the heavy-lift Falcon Heavy. And while they don’t look anything like the iconic Millennium Falcon flown by Han Solo and his Wookie pal Chewbacca in “Star Wars,” there are some striking similarities between the two space vehicles.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo ship for NASA soars into the predawn sky after launching from Space Complex 40 at Cape Canveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2019.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo ship for NASA streaks into the predawn sky after launching from Space Complex 40 at Cape Canveral Air Force Station in Florida on May 4, 2019.

(Image: © NASA/Kim Shiflett)

A Reusable Cargo Freighter

Just as the Millennium Falcon is a Corellian freighter haul payloads (and sometimes passengers) across the galaxy, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters are built haul payloads into orbit. (SpaceX no longer flies Falcon 1 rockets. The last one flew in 2009.)

The first stages of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are also reusable, just like the Millennium Falcon. In the “Star Wars” universe, Han Solo and other characters regularly refuel and fly their Falcon over and over again.

Related: The History of Lego’s Millennium Falcon: A Photo Timeline

During today’s Falcon 9 launch, SpaceX returned the booster’s first stage to Earth with a pinpoint landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean about 12 miles (19kilometers) off the coast of Florida. The booster will eventually fly again, launching more NASA cargo to the station on at least one more mission, and possibly a third, said Kenny Todd, NASA’s manager for international Space Station operations and integration, after the successful launch.

Elon Musk has said that eventually, SpaceX hopes to fly a Falcon 9 rocket twice within 24 hours. That would put SpaceX’s rockets on par with the Millennium Falcon, which appears to have made the trip from Tatooine to the Death Star (near the former site of Alderaan), only to escape the Empire and reach the Rebel base on Yavin 4 all in the same day in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

Related: Our Favorite ‘Star Wars’ Ships from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The Millennium Falcon isn’t the only fictional object SpaceX has named its vehicles after. The Dragon spacecraft, for example, are named after Puff the Magic Dragon, Elon Musk has said. The company’s drone ship landing pads, “Of Course I Still Love You” and “Just Read The Instructions,” are named after the giant sentient starships of “The Culture” series by science fiction author Iain M. Banks.

It’s only sheer coincidence that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched the Dragon cargo mission for NASA on “Star Wars Day.”

The mission was originally scheduled to launch April 26, but was delayed several times to allow time for extra vehicle checks, await optimal orbital mechanics conditions for flight, as well as fix a minor helium leak at the launchpad and electrical issue on the drone ship.

Dragon is carrying more than 5,500 lbs. (2,495 kilograms) of experiments and supplies for astronauts on the International Space Station. It will arrive at the orbiting lab early Monday (May 6).

You can watch Dragon’s arrival live here, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 5:30 a.m. EDT (0930 GMT) on Monday.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him@tariqjmalik. Follow us@SpacedotcomandFacebook.

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