Florida, US.- A SpaceX rocket that flew just two months ago with a NASA satellite roared back into action Friday, launching the first orbiting robot with artificial intelligence and other station supplies.
The used Falcon rocket blasted off before dawn, hauling nearly 6,000 pounds (2,700 kilograms) of cargo including the spherical AI bot named Cimon, genetically identical mice and super-caffeinated coffee for the crew of the International Space Station.
The shipment — packed into a Dragon capsule that’s also recycled — should reach the station Monday.
It was an especially gorgeous launch, delighting spectators as the rocket plume expanded in the clear night sky like a giant halo beneath a nearly full moon and a gleaming Mars.
SpaceX’s Jessica Jensen described the high-altitude plume, illuminated against the dark sky, as “the space jellyfish that’s coming down after us.”
“I was going to say breathtaking, but maybe awakening might be a better word,” said NASA’s space station program manager, Kirk Shireman.
This marked SpaceX’s fastest reflight of a booster. The same first-stage booster launched the planet-hunting Tess satellite in April.