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PHOTOS: SpaceX launched an important spacecraft into space this morning

The Dragon capsule contains a docking station which would allow future spaceships to park at the International Space Station.

SPACEX HAS SUCCESSFULLY launched a capsule which will bring supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), including equipment which will allow future spaceships to park there.

The Falcon rocket was launched into orbit earlier this morning in Florida and is carrying 2,267kg of supplies in a Dragon space capsule including a new-style space station docking port designed for the ISS.

It will take two days for the Dragon capsule, which contains food, supplies and equipment, to arrive at the station.

When the docking port is attached to the station, it will act as a parking space for commercial spaceships, including those under development by SpaceX and Boeing.

The first crew flights are planned for late 2017, and 2018.

It’s the second time SpaceX has attempted to deliver a new-style docking port for NASA. Its first attempt saw the rocket break up two and a half minutes into the flight.

SpaceX also managed to land the Falcon rocket a few minutes after the launch. This was the second time it managed a ground landing and the fifth time it recovered one of its rockets post-launch. Other attempts at landing happened on an autonomous drone ship floating on the ocean.

Space Station The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket launching earlier this morning. Source: AP Photo/John Raoux

KSC-20160718-PH_FM01_0016 Source: NASA/Frank Michaux

SpaceX is owned and operated by Elon Musk, who also founded Tesla Motors, and the company aims to lower the cost of space travel by reusing rocket parts instead of jettisoning them into the ocean.

The Dragon capsule will arrive at the station early Wednesday, where astronauts will use the outpost’s robotic arm to grab the incoming spacecraft and attach it to the station.

After five weeks in orbit, the Dragon will detach and steer itself back through Earth’s atmosphere to land in the Pacific Ocean under a parachute.

(Additional reporting from AFP)

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