A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A on Thursday, then its first stage booster touched down on a nearby landing target after sending a U.S. Air Force X-37B spaceplane toward orbit.
The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) rocket lifted off from pad 39A at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) with the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B spaceplane, a robotic miniature space shuttle that can operate without a crew for years in orbit, then return to landing on a runway.
It was the 41st launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since the first version of SpaceX’s primary launcher debuted in June 2010, and the 13th Falcon 9 flight of the year.
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