science -- September 29, 2013 at 10:53 AM ET
Watch the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
UPDATE - The launch was successful.
A photo of today's Falcon 9 liftoff courtesy of SpaceX.
Today at 12 p.m. ET, the commercial spaceflight company SpaceX will launch an improved version of their launch vehicle. The Falcon 9 was the first commercial rocket to successfully deliver an unmanned space capsule to the International Space Station. That mission launched in October of 2012.
Last year, PBS NewsHour Science Correspondent Miles O'Brien reported on SpaceX's goal to someday "send millions of people to Mars".
SpaceX describes the Falcon 9 rocket on its own website:
Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. As the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 was designed from the ground up for maximum reliability. Falcon 9's simple two-stage configuration minimizes the number of separation events -- and with nine first-stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.
Falcon 9 made history in 2012 when it delivered Dragon into the correct orbit for rendezvous with the International Space Station, making SpaceX the first commercial company ever to visit the station. Since then SpaceX has made a total of three flights to the space station, both delivering and returning cargo for NASA. Falcon 9, along with the Dragon spacecraft, was designed from the outset to deliver humans into space and under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is actively working toward that goal.
Watch Miles O'Brien's report on SpaceX here: