Moonshot pad roaring back into action with SpaceX launch

While SpaceX delayed its latest Falcon 9 rocket launch at the last moment on Saturday, the rescheduled liftoff went off without a hitch on Sunday morning at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"Baby came back", Elon Musk posted on Instagram shortly after the successful landing. The pad is part of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, and has been home to the biggest space missions of the past 50 years. The complex has a rich past: It was used to launch the Apollo moon missions.

Musk said Saturday's potential problem was "not obviously related" to a "very small" helium leak he said Friday that the company was investigating. A Falcon 9 rocket successfully touched down at SpaceX's ground-based landing zone at Cape Canaveral after launching to space. "Standing down to take a closer look at positioning of the second stage engine nozzle", SpaceX said on Twitter.

The Dragon is now making its way to the International Space Station, and is expected to arrive on Wednesday. SpaceX has successfully recovered Falcon 9 first stages from five missions at sea using the company's Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships.

Today's launch occurred without incident, with the second stage separating two minutes and 24 seconds into the flight and firing eight seconds later.

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The launch was originally scheduled for Saturday but was scrapped just 13 seconds before launch due to a glitch with the rocket engine. The company hopes to launch astronauts from 39A next year.

SpaceX will have to wait at least another day to launch from NASA's historic moon pad.

Then on April 12 1981, the first space shuttle launched from Pad 39-A for STS-1, and NASA astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen took the shuttle flight Columbia for two days, landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The last time something was launched from this specific launch pad was in 2011.

The mission marks a successful return to space after the firm's previous mission, a satellite launch effort, met with a fiery end, later found to be the result of a pressure vessel that was loaded at too low a temperature.