The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

An unmanned space rocket has blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on a mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa.

The Falcon 9 rocket, built and privately owned by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), took off on Friday and then deployed the Dragon freighter on a path to the orbiting platform.

The Dragon cargo ship is loaded with two tonnes of supplies and equipment for experiments, and is due to reach the ISS on Sunday.

"The rocket flight was perfect as far as we could tell," SpaceX chief executive and founder Elon Musk told reporters.

The cargo run is the third launched by SpaceX as part of its 12-flight, $1.6 billion (£950m) contract with NASA. The station, a $100 billion research laboratory owned by 15 nations, flies about 260 miles (418km) above Earth.

Astronauts will use a robotic arm on the station to reach out and grab the Dragon, pulling it into a free berthing position. The crew will then be able to unload the freighter.

SpaceX had planned to fly last month, but delayed the mission to review a potential contamination concern with its rocket. The issue was resolved, but then an Air Force radar system needed to track the vehicle during flight was damaged, sidelining all launches from Cape Canaveral for two weeks.

Another launch attempt on Monday was called off after a valve leak was found in a part of the system that separates the Falcon 9's first and second stages. The rocket was removed from the launch pad and repaired.

On Friday, the only issue was the weather, but the rain and thunderstorms that clobbered central Florida on Friday cleared in time for the Falcon 9 to lift off at the precise moment when Earth's rotation aligned its launch pad with the space station's orbit.

Watch the launch on Nasa's YouTube channel, below: