Elon Musk, chief executive officer for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), pauses while speaking during the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)

Musk's SpaceX Sends Nearly Three Tons of Cargo to Space Station

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(Bloomberg) -- Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched a rocket carrying 5,800 pounds of supplies Monday afternoon as part of its longstanding contract with NASA to ferry cargo to the International Space Station.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:30 p.m. local time. The mission’s Dragon spacecraft is packed with nearly three tons of research, crew supplies and hardware, according to NASA.

“About 10 minutes after launch, Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit,” at which point it “deploys its solar arrays and begins a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the International Space Station,” NASA said in a statement ahead of the launch.

The Dragon capsule is expected to reach its destination on April 4, when crew members will use the station’s 57.7-foot (17.6-meter) robotic arm to reach out and capture it.

Both the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage and the Dragon spacecraft have been used in previous resupply missions for the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX will not try to recover Falcon 9’s first stage after Monday’s launch, it said.

SpaceX is targeting roughly 30 total missions this year, up from a record 18 in 2017. Monday’s launch brings its 2018 tally to seven, following Friday’s launch of 10 Iridium Communications Inc. satellites.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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