The mission is SpaceX's 16th for NASA, as part of a long-term contract to ferry supplies to space

Tampa (AFP) - SpaceX on Wednesday blasted off its unmanned Dragon cargo ship, loaded with supplies, science experiments and food for the astronauts living at the International Space Station.

“We have had a great liftoff,” said SpaceX commentator John Insprucker, as the Falcon 9 rocket soared into the sunny, blue sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:16 pm (1816 GMT), carrying 5,600 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of gear.

The mission is SpaceX’s 16th for NASA, as part of a long-term contract to ferry supplies to space.

It was initially meant to take off Tuesday, but was delayed for a day after engineers discovered moldy mouse food in one of the science investigations designed to study the effect of microgravity on the immune system.

The bad food was replaced ahead of Wednesday’s launch.

Other experiments among the more than 250 on board include a new kind of mustard green lettuce that astronauts will grow in space.

The Dragon space capsule that flew on Wednesday was used once before, on a supply mission in February 2017.

It should arrive at the space station on Saturday morning.