SpaceX also managed to land the Falcon rocket a few minutes after the launch. It returned an orbital rocket booster to a Cape Canaveral, Florida landing pad for the second time.
By the end of SpaceX's online broadcast of the whole shebang, the engineers hosting the webcast early Monday morning were in a jolly mood.
The previous year, SpaceX made an attempt to bring a docking ring to the station for the first time ever, but a launch accident happened, destructing all the equipment. It had landed a used first-stage booster on land once in December, last year.
"It's a great day for SpaceX, a great day for NASA", Joel Montalbano, NASA's deputy manager of ISS utilization, said during a postlaunch news conference. In April, SpaceX also completed a trickier ocean landing, which requires the rocket to contend with a moving target, something it has replicated twice since then.
NASA needs to have the Boeing-built International Docking Adapter installed on the station's Harmony module in order to link up correctly with the crew-carrying spaceships that SpaceX and Boeing are building. "Someday, everybody will be able to fly into space and this is the beginning of that industry".
"With equipment to enable novel experiments never attempted before in space, and an worldwide docking adapter vital to the future of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft, we're thrilled this Dragon has successfully taken flight".
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station can expect a delivery in two days, courtesy of SpaceX. "Even if the landing fails, that has no bearing on the success of the resupply mission - just as long as the Dragon gets to its proper orbit".
The launch was for a NASA-contracted Dragon space capsule to the International Space Station. There have been five successful landings, with Monday's marking the second time for the returning boost to touch down on land. The next step will be launching NASA astronauts from USA soil; for now, Americans are hitching rides on Russian rockets. The last one went up in smoke over the Atlantic past year.
Once in place, the adapter will use sensors to automatically capture shuttles, including Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's human-rated Dragon capsule.