SpaceX marked the end of an era this morning as the last of its old-generation Falcon 9 rockets blasted beyond orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
On board was a ball-shaped artificial intelligence robot nicknamed the ‘flying brain’, which is designed to fly around the International Space Station and interact with a German astronaut.
The rocket’s Dragon cargo ship is also carrying an experiment to measure plant stress in space and a study of a new cancer treatment. It is expected to dock with the International Space Station next week.
The launch formally ended the reign of the Falcon 9 Block 4 rocket as SpaceX makes way for its next-generation Block 5 boosters, which the company hopes to launch and re-use up to 100 times before they need replacing.
The rocket lifted off from Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre at 09:42 am GMT (5:42 ET) carrying three tons of equipment, supplies and science experiments.