Beautiful weather conditions in Cape Canaveral, Florida, allowed for the successful SpaceX launch of its unmanned Dragon space capsule into earth's orbit on Friday afternoon.
The purpose of the commercial resupply services mission, labeled CRS-8, was to deliver supplies and scientific experiments to the International Space Station (ISS). This is the eighth contracted mission that SpaceX is carrying out for NASA.
About ten minutes after the spacecraft was launched into orbit, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket separated and successfully landed on a drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the first time SpaceX was able to land a rocket on a ship in the ocean, despite several previous attempts.
The barge was located about 186 miles (300 kilometers) downrange of Cape Canaveral, AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said. Lada, who attended the launch, said winds were well below the criteria necessary for cancellation of the flight.
One of the most significant pieces of cargo stowed on board the Dragon was the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM. This experimental device will dock with the ISS and can expand to roughly 13 feet long and 10.5 feet in diameter, according to NASA.
BEAM will be used to test the usage of expandable habitable areas for future space missions, such as a mission to Mars.
CRS-8 was the first CRS mission to the ISS since the failed launch of CRS-7, which exploded minutes after liftoff in June 2015.
Congrats to the @SpaceX team & @ElonMusk! Way to stick the landing & send #Dragon to @Space_Station. https://t.co/TCJCQljJBZ— NASA (@NASA) April 8, 2016
AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada contributed content to this article.