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SpaceX launches station supplies, nails 50th rocket landing

A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station with 4,300 pounds of equipment and experiments.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has launched another load of station supplies for NASA and nailed its 50th rocket landing.

A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station on Friday with 4,300 pounds of equipment and experiments. Just minutes after liftoff, the spent first-stage booster made a dramatic midnight landing back at Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA said the spacecraft launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40.

Both the booster and the Dragon capsule are en route to a Monday rendezvous with the space station are recycled from previous flights. NASA said Dragon is scheduled to remain at the space station until April 9, when it will return to Earth with research and cargo.

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Among the many supplies the Dragon is carrying, it includes a new facility that will go outside the International Space Station. It's called the Bartolomeo facility. NASA said it's designed to "provide new scientific opportunities on the outside of the space station for commercial and institutional users."

It's the 20th station delivery for SpaceX. And it's the 50th successful touchdown of a SpaceX booster following liftoff, either on land or at sea.

NASA said for almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked on the International Space Station. As a global endeavor, 239 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries.

The space station serves as a testbed for innovative technologies like recycling waste plastic and carbon dioxide filtration that are critical for long-duration missions on the lunar surface in the Artemis program.

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