CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – It’s July in Florida, which means the daily afternoon storms don’t always make for the best launch weather, however, SpaceX found a pocket in the clouds Thursday to launch its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral with a load of supplies, experiments and Nickelodeon slime bound for the International Space Station.
Strong storms moving across the southeast U.S. produced some afternoon thunderstorms across Florida Wednesday delaying the first attempt this week but after a 24-hour delay the weather conditions improved, but just slightly, and the Falcon 9 launched at 6:01 p.m. into a mostly blue sky.
Approximately 8 minutes after liftoff the Falcon 9 first-stage booster completed a boostback burn and came back down for a controlled landing at Cape Canaveral, marking the 44th landing for a SpaceX rocket booster.
On Thursday, residents from Brevard County to Orlando and Oviedo said they heard the thunderous rumble.
Weather plays a big factor in just how loud and intense a sonic boom can sound, as well as how far the sound can travel. Read more about how weather impacts your sonic boom experience here.
This launch was the 18th commercial resupply service mission for SpaceX to the International Space Station. The Dragon cargo craft is marked with two space station stamps from its previous deliveries to the ISS and a marker in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the space station Saturday at 10 a.m. NASA astronaut Nick Hague will use Canadarm 2 to grab the spacecraft.
The Dragon capsule is packed with 5,000 pounds of science investigations, supplies and equipment for the space station, including a new International Docking Adapter that will be installed on the Harmony module and provides a second docking port for commercial crew spacecraft.
Science experiments make up more than 2,600 pounds of the payload in the cargo capsule, including experiments to develop materials for better tire performance and a platform for the printing of biological tissues on the space station.
Nickelodeon's green slime is also on board this space station supply run for STEM education, according to the children's television network.
"We're going to slime a couple of astronauts and put it through a couple demonstrations," said Andrew Machles, a vice president of public affairs at Viacom, which owns Nickelodeon.
Maches told CNN Business the astronauts will capture video of how the slime moves in microgravity, and the material will be used to develop a STEM curriculum for students.
The Falcon 9 booster has also previously launched supplies to the ISS. The flight-proven booster launched the last supply load to the space station about a month ago, according to SpaceX.