A little over two hours after liftoff, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule took off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Kennedy Space Center with a cargo-carrying test rocket on board.
The rocket blasted off atop the Falcon 9 on a Falcon 9 first stage, the third stage of which had already delivered the Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.
A Dragon crew module would later be carried into orbit aboard a NASA Cygnus spacecraft, and SpaceX hoped to put those two vehicles into orbit by the end of the year.
This morning’s Dragon flight was the first time SpaceX had attempted to test out the engines that would power the Dragon spacecraft’s first stage.
SpaceX is hoping to use those engines in the first stage of a future crew vehicle to transport astronauts and cargo to the station.
The first stage rocket booster was used to test the first stages of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket stages, which are designed to fly longer missions than their predecessors.
The second stage rocket’s main engine, also known as the RP-1, uses the same engine for the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets.
SpaceX plans to use the same engines in both the Falcon 8 and Falcon 10 rockets that are slated to fly to the space station this summer.
This first flight of the Falcon-9 rocket was SpaceX’s second flight since its first launch in December 2017.
In May 2018, SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 7 rocket with its first payload into space.
SpaceX had originally planned to fly its first Falcon 9 stage through the same launch pad used to launch the first Falcon Heavy stage, but the test was delayed due to weather conditions in Florida.
SpaceX was also slated to use a different launch pad in 2019.
By mid-June, SpaceX was expected to be flying its first-stage rocket again.
While SpaceX is expected to fly the Dragon crew capsule this morning, the Falcon 10 rocket is not expected to lift off until at least July 1, 2019.