SpaceX pushes Space Station resupply launch to Tuesday

First launch from Complex 40 since 2016 explosion

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft docking at the International Space Station.
A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft docking at the International Space Station. (NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA officials said Tuesday that a SpaceX cargo resupply launch to the International Space Station is delayed until at least Dec. 12. Liftoff was originally planned for Friday.

“This new launch date takes into account pad readiness, requirements for science payloads, space station crew availability and orbital mechanics,” NASA officials said in a news release.

Next Tuesday's launch window opens at 11:46 a.m. US Air Force weather officials predict an 80 percent chance of good launch conditions on Tuesday. If the launch delays to Wednesday, the conditions remain the same.

[Where to watch a rocket launch]

The mission will mark the first launch from the renovated launchpad at Space Launch Complex 40, which was damaged in September 2016 when a Falcon 9 exploded during fueling.

The rebuilt pad is on the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base side a few miles down the beach from Kennedy Space Center's launch complex. It's essential for SpaceX to have a second launchpad to free up Kennedy Space Center pad 39A for the future heavy lift rocket, Falcon Heavy.

In a recent tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the company is targeting the first Falcon Heavy launch for the beginning of 2018. Musk also confirmed that the new rocket's first payload will be a midnight cherry red Tesla Roadster and its destination is Mars orbit.

NASA goes with used hardware

In another first, NASA approved the use of a previously flown rocket booster for this launch. SpaceX has been launching, landing and reusing Falcon 9 first stages for other contracts. It’s the first time the space agency has allowed used rocket hardware to launch a mission. 

NASA already allows for used, and then refurbished, Dragon capsules to make trips into space on cargo deliver contracts. 

The Dragon spacecraft will deliver almost 5,000 pounds of supplies to the astronauts on the International Space Station.

Check back to ClickOrlando.com/Space and get live updates on launch day.

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