SpaceX Falcon 9 heads to ISS: Things you need to know

SpaceX had planned to launch another set of supplies for the NASA space stations. This includes a critical docking port that is needed by the US crew. The unmanned rocket Falcon 9 was scheduled to launch earlier, today.

Inside the rocket, there is a replica of the docking port destroyed in an accident involving SpaceX last summer. NASA reportedly needs at least one and preferably two of these ports for crew capsules that are under development by SpaceX and Boeing.

NASA has been stuck riding Russian-made rockets to the International Space Station since shuttles stopped flying five years ago. The SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner capsules are meant to reduce the dependency on Russia.

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SpaceX will also be trying to land its leftover booster at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is located just a couple miles away from the Falcon launch pad. The California-based company intends to reuse its rockets to save resources. It had landed a used first-stage booster on land once in December, last year. Three other boosters landed vertically on an ocean platform, after delivering the spacecraft into its orbit.

A risk evaluation by the Air Force showed that the Dragon capsule that is full of toxic fuel, could parachute down if there is a launch failure. The wind is expected to be troublesome. Hence the Kennedy Space Center along with the neighbouring vehicle assembly building was said to be evacuated.

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The SpaceX Dragon is the only ship that is capable of returning items to Earth from the space station. That is why the parachutes have been used. Journalists, NASA and SpaceX public relations staff along with the VIPs have been advised to find alternative sites for viewing the event.