SpaceX launches fresh Dragon cargo ship to space station, lands rocket at sea

Another Dragon is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX launched its 27th contracted cargo mission for NASA on Tuesday (March 14), sending a robotic Dragon capsule aloft from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 8:30 p.m. EDT (0030 GMT on March 15).

If all goes according to plan, the Dragon will arrive at the ISS on Thursday (March 16) at 7:52 a.m. EDT (1152 GMT). You can watch that rendezvous live here at, courtesy of NASA.

Related: Facts about SpaceX's Dragon capsule

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches SpaceX's 27th contracted cargo mission to the International Space Station from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on March 14, 2023.

A Falcon 9 rocket launches SpaceX's 27th contracted cargo mission to the International Space Station from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on March 14, 2023. (Image credit: NASA TV)

The newly launched mission, known as CRS-27, was the the third for this particular Dragon capsule and the seventh for the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that carried it to orbit.

That booster will likely fly again: It came down for a pinpoint touchdown on the SpaceX drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas about seven minutes and 45 seconds after liftoff on Tuesday. 

The landing was a historic one for the company, and for spaceflight in general.

"In an industry that has historically been male-dominated, today's recovery operations are being managed by an all-female crew," SpaceX engineer Zachary Luppen said during the CRS-27 launch webcast. "In fact, we believe it to be the first all-female crew for any kind of operation like this, and if it's not the first, then we're in great company."

That crew is responsible for operating the recovery ships and getting the Falcon 9 safely back to shore, Luppen explained.

On CRS-27, Dragon is hauling up spacewalk equipment, vehicle hardware and other supplies, as well as about 60 new scientific experiments.

Among the scientific gear are the final two investigations for Tissue Chips in Space, a project run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the International Space Station National Laboratory. 

"Both studies, Cardinal Heart 2.0 and Engineered Heart Tissues-2, use small devices containing living cells that mimic functions of human tissues and organs to advance the development of treatments for cardiac dysfunction," NASA officials wrote in an update on March 9.

Another scientific payload going up on CRS-27 is the HUNCH Ball Clamp Monopod, which was built by Houston-area high school students. The monopod could make it easier to film in space, agency officials said.

Dragon is also carrying food, including some rare treats for astronauts accustomed to eating preserved victuals out of a box or bag.

"The crews requested some fresh fruit and refrigerated cheeses," Phil Dempsey, NASA's International Space Station Program transportation integration manager, said during a prelaunch press conference on Monday (March 13). "So on board are apples, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges [and] cherry tomatoes, as well as a few different cheeses."

The cargo Dragon will join one of its crew-carrying cousins at the ISS on Thursday. The Crew Dragon Endeavour arrived at the orbiting lab on March 3, delivering the four astronauts of SpaceX's Crew-6 mission for NASA. On Saturday (March 11), the four spaceflyers of SpaceX's Crew-5 left the ISS, heading for home aboard the Crew Dragon Endurance.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 9:20 p.m. EDT on March 14 with news of successful launch and rocket landing.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook. 

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.