SpaceX launched Falcon 9 rocket Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the company’s 19th cargo mission to the International Space Station. Lifting off at 12:29 p.m., the rocket carried 5,700 pounds of supplies, experiments and a new version of the CIMON robot designed to interact with astronauts. The onboard robot is designed to float in the space station’s habitat.
The first-stage booster of the rocket landed on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean about eight minutes after launch. The Dragon capsule will travel through space for several days as it catches up to the station. On Dec. 8, the capsule will make a slow approach to space station, and astronauts on board will capture it using the station’s Canadarm and attach it to an airlock. After being unpacked and repacked, the capsule is scheduled to leave the space station from the station and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in January, arriving in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California with 3,600 pounds of return cargo.
Other items on the rocket included a high-tech toolbox, designed to be mounted outside the station, and a new hyperspectral Earth imaging system that was developed by the Japanese government for use in oil exploration among other things.
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