An exhaust cloud begins to form around the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it lifts off Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:44 a.m. EDT.
The launch is the company's second demonstration test flight for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, Program. During the flight, the Dragon capsule will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station. If the capsule performs as planned, the cargo and experiments it is carrying will be transferred to the station. The cargo includes food, water and provisions for the station’s Expedition crews, such as clothing, batteries and computer equipment. Under COTS, NASA has partnered with two aerospace companies to deliver cargo to the station. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/spacex. Photo credit: NASA/Rick Wetherington, Tim Powers and Tim Terry