SpaceX Launches From Historic Apollo Moon Pad

Impressive return flights aside, the launch itself is pretty historic - Falcon 9 took off on Sunday from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida - the same launch pad that was used for the Apollo missions in the '60s.

Falcon 9 1st stage, with landing legs deployed, about to land at Landing Zone 1, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, February 19, 2017.

Astronauts flew to the moon from the same spot almost a half-century ago, and the pad was last used for NASA's final shuttle mission back in 2011. He said: "This is the same launch pad used by the Saturn V rocket that first took people to the moon in 1969", the caption reads.

On Sunday, however, the launch went smoothly.

However, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease on the pad and will be hoping to put astronauts in its ships to send into space as early as next year from the site. "Baby came back", SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted on Instagram after the successful landing. Dragon will get back to earth after 29 days with 5000 lbs. of supply.


Saturday morning's planned launch will be SpaceX's first from Florida since a devastating rocket explosion at a neighboring pad last summer.

According to the Associated Press, NASA was watching the launch closely before it clears SpaceX to carry NASA astronauts. Among the investigations are experiments with potential to help fight human disease, monitor climate data, and improve autonomous spacecraft docking with the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX is leasing the pad from NASA for 20 years and the organization aims to launch U.S. astronauts from there in 2018.

"We're going in and listening to their launches and getting smart so we can have intelligent discussions with them and offer feedback about how things might be different if you're launching people", Stephen Payne, NASA's launch integration manager for the commercial space taxi program, said in an interview.

Nine minutes after the rocket launched, the cargo ship separated from Falcon 9 leaving the supplies in low-earth orbit. That pad was heavily damaged in a September 1 rocket explosion.

The company plans to launch its first previously flown - or as SpaceX likes to say "flight-tested" - rocket in March, marking another milestone in the storied life of 39A.

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