The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. The rocket is carrying supplies to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Equipment for science experiments is headed for the International Space Station Monday after the launch of Hawthorne-based SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule.
The cargo ship took off Sunday from Cape Canaveral, Fla. for the first of 12 supply runs for NASA. The craft has about 1,000 pounds of equipment and some ice cream for the space station's occupants.
Dragon is scheduled to reach the space station on Wednesday.
Officials declared the launch a success, despite a problem with one of the nine first-stage engines. The rocket put Dragon in its intended orbit, said the billionaire founder and chief executive officer of SpaceX, Elon Musk.
NASA is counting on private business to restock the space station, now that the shuttles have retired to museums. Shuttle Endeavour arrived in Los Angeles last month and will begin a two-day journey Friday to the California Science Center.
The space agency has a $1.6 billion contract with SpaceX for 12 resupply missions.
Dragon will return twice as much cargo as it took to the space station, including a stockpile of astronauts' blood and urine samples. The samples -- nearly 500 of them -- have been in freezers since Atlantis made the last shuttle flight in July 2011.
The Dragon will spend close to three weeks at the space station before being released and parachuting into the Pacific at the end of October. By then, the space station should be back up to a full crew of six.