PayPal co-founder Elon Musk’s SpaceX sure has come a long way since its rocky beginnings — a string of early launch failures threatened to ground the project permanently. Thankfully, they soon gave way to smooth sailing for the skyward venture, and today marks yet another successful launch to add to the SpaceX scrapbook.
Just a little while ago, the company’s unmanned Dragon capsule (perched atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, naturally) blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on the first of 12 missions to resupply the International Space Station.
Of course, the space buffs among you (there have to be at least a few, right?) will remember that this isn’t SpaceX’s first trip up there — the company made history earlier this year when its Dragon capsule successfully latched onto and docked with the International Space Station.
It’s the first time that a private spacecraft has ever done so, but now that SpaceX has proven that the feat is possible, it’s time to get some work done. Like the first Dragon capsule that docked with the ISS last May, this one is loaded up with about 1,000 lbs of cargo and consumables for the station’s crew (not least of which is the onboard store of chocolate and vanilla ice cream). SpaceX’s paycheck for this and its next 12 trips up there? A cool $1.6 billion — not too shabby, especially considering the company’s last big deal with satellite communications provider Iridium netted SpaceX $492 million.
I’m sorry to say that the fireworks display that was the vehicle’s launch is already over, but there’s still quite a bit to keep your eyes peeled for in the days to come. The Dragon is currently cruising along in its target orbit, while the crew aboard the International Space Station prepare to receive it this Wednesday.