WASHINGTON – The U.S. Dragon cargo spacecraft is again on its way to resupply the International Space Station.
Space Exploration Technologies Inc. (SpaceX) successfully launched Dragon on schedule at 8:35 p.m. EDT on Sunday (Oct. 7) from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., commencing the first commercial resupply services mission (designated CRS-1) under a new, $1.6 billion NASA contract with the commercial space company based in Hawthorne, Calif.
The first night launch of the Falcon 9 rocket went off without a hitch. The rocket hit its one-second launch window right on the money. Any delay would have canceled the launch for at least a day.
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Dragon is scheduled to dock with the space station on Wednesday (Oct. 10). If all goes as planned, Dragon will return scientific experiments to Earth later this month.
“The vehicle remains on a nominal trajectory,” SpaceX controllers reported midway through the Falcon 9’s approximately 10 minute ride to orbit. Once in orbit, Dragon will take several days to catch and rendezvous with the space station. On its approach to the orbiting laboratory, space station astronauts Akihiko Hoshide and station commander Sunita Williams will capture Dragon with the station’s robotic arm and pull it into a docking station prior to unloading more than 1,000 pounds of cargo and science experiments.
Space station astronauts reported they had a clear view of the entire Dragon launch.
“A picture perfect launch,” NASA mission control proclaimed shortly after Dragon separated from it second stage and began deploying is solar arrays.
The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship in orbit with solar array deployed.
NASA said it has pre-positioned large quantities of station cargo for the unmanned resupply missions since the space shuttle era ended last year. Among the experiments to be delivered by Dragon is an igniter experiment designed to study and prevent spacecraft fires.Related stories:
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