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SpaceX's next mission to bring cargo to the International Space Station, previously scheduled for launch on Dec. 16, has been pushed back to no earlier than 1:20 p.m. ET Dec. 19, NASA said Thursday. This flight of the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket and uncrewed Dragon cargo capsule is expected to mark the first test of an unorthodox system for landing the Falcon's first stage on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean.

While the Falcon stage descends to that tricky but potentially cost-saving touchdown, the Dragon would fly on to a rendezvous with the space station and deliver supplies and equipment — including NASA's Cloud-Aerosol Transport System. NASA said the three-day delay in liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida would give SpaceX "extra time to ensure they do everything possible on the ground to prepare for a successful launch." Both the rocket and the capsule are in good health, NASA said.



— Alan Boyle