Falcon 9's first stage for the SSO-A previously supported the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission in May 2018 and the Merah Putih mission in August 2018.
"It was an incredible launch", Joel Montalbano, deputy ISS Programme Manager, NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.
SpaceX CEO and lead designer Elon Musk tweeted that the reusable booster was undamaged and appeared to be transmitting data.
The Dragon was the third space station supply ship launched to the station in less than a month.
This was the first time that a SpaceX rocket missed intact ground landing. Moreover, SpaceX expects to begin launching space station crew in the following year.
But the primary goal of the flight, SpaceX's 20th so far this year, was to boost the Dragon cargo ship into the space station's orbit for a planned three-day rendezvous. The station's CanadaArm is expected to bring the capsule aboard early Saturday morning.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket vaulted off the pad from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday, tearing its way through unusually clear blue skies on a path to secure at least four company records before deploying dozens of spacecraft. Twenty years ago this week, Cabana commanded the shuttle mission that carried up the first USA part of the space station.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the tradition dinner, even in space.
The Dec. 3 mission is the largest single "rideshare" from a USA -based launch vehicle to date, according to SpaceX. The Falcon 9 carried to a Sun Synchronous orbit 64 spacecraft, in particular 15 Micro satellites and 49 cubesats, from 34 different organizations from 17 countries. Those projects will test dental glue and a plant-watering process for space. According to Space.com, if all goes according to plan, the Dragon will reach the space station three days from now, and the ISS crew can start unpacking the load.
After separating from the second stage, and firing its engines to return to Earth, a video camera on board showed the first stage spinning.
Astronaut Anne McClain, also from NASA, will monitor telemetry during the spacecraft's approach.