SpaceX targeting April 8 launch to ISS for CRS-8 mission

Mission will be SpaceX's eighth under a NASA contract


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX is targeting April 8 for the launch of its Dragon cargo capsule from Cape Canaveral, its first Dragon cargo-carrying attempt since a failed mission last summer, NASA confirmed Friday.

The International Space Station resupply mission would blast off atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at 4:43 p.m.

According to News 6 partner Florida Today, SpaceX's last Dragon mission ended in failure when a Falcon 9 broke apart just over two minutes after liftoff June 28.

Investigators determined a strut in the rocket's upper stage broke, causing the liquid oxygen tank to rupture. The Dragon and its supplies were lost in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX returned to flight successfully in December with a more powerful Falcon 9 rocket, and has launched twice more since then.

The upcoming launch, which will be the third using the new version of the rocket, should afford SpaceX another opportunity to try to land the rocket's first stage at the company's "Landing Zone 1" at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as it did for the first time in December.

The company's previous two launches attempted experimental landings on barges at sea as part of ongoing efforts to recover and reuse rockets, a capability that could significantly lower launch costs.

The most high-profile payload flying aboard the Dragon will be a prototype module designed by Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace that will be attached to the outside of the space station. Bigelow hopes the BEAM, or Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, demonstrates technology that could be the foundation for privately operated space stations in the future.

The mission will be SpaceX's eighth under a NASA commercial resupply services contract worth up to $3.1 billion.