SpaceX Rocket Blasts Off To Resupply International Space Station - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

SpaceX Rocket Blasts Off To Resupply International Space Station

Posted: Updated: -  CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.

Blast off! SpaceX's Falcon rocket launched Friday at 10:10 a.m. ET from Cape Canaveral on a resupply run to the International Space Station.

The unmanned rocket is owned by the SpaceX company, and carried the company's Dragon capsule filled with more than a ton of space station supplies and experiments -- rather than the chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream carried aboard a previous mission. This time, Dragon's freezers are going up filled with mouse stem cells, protein crystals and other research items. 

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said snacks straight from the orchard of an employee's father are on board -- and not just apples.

It's a little bit healthier, I think, than the one that NASA sent last time," she told reporters on the eve of the flight.

This will be the third space station visit for SpaceX, or more formally Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the creation of Elon Musk of PayPal and Tesla electric carmaker fame.

NASA is paying the company to supply the orbiting lab; the contract is worth $1.6 billion for 12 delivery runs.

The Dragon should arrive at the space station on Saturday morning. The six-member station crew will use the station's robot arm to grab the Dragon and attach it to the orbiting complex.

A variety of plant life is going up, including 640 seeds of mouse-ear cress, a small flowering weed used in research. Other experiments involve paint; high school students want to see how it will adhere and dry in space.

Russia, Europe and Japan also provide delivery services to the space station, but none of those cargo craft can return goods like the SpaceX Dragon. This latest Dragon will spend more than three weeks at the space station before departing and parachuting into the Pacific with a full load of medical specimens, fish, plants and old equipment.

NASA's shuttles used to be the main haulers up and down, but retired two years ago.

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