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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft takes off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Feb. 19, 2017. Dragon will deliver supplies, critical cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX photo.

​SpaceX’s Feb. 19 launch of a Falcon 9 rocket marked the “first launch where we’ve used an autonomous flight termination system,” Space Command chief Gen. Jay Raymond told reporters Friday at AWS17. All rockets are equipped with a flight termination system at launch, Raymond explained, that enables a human operator to monitor the rocket’s path and trigger a “destruct package” if the rocket strays from its flight path and endangers public safety. The most recent Falcon 9 launch is the first time this capability has been fully automated with a “self-sensing destruct package.” Raymond said the advance will save money and time by requiring “less radars” and “less telemetry” for rocket launches in the future.​