Food, care packages and provisions for NASA's astronauts make up more than a third of the cargo onboard Dragon.
The night sky over Florida was well lit on Sunday after SpaceX, private spaceflight company, launched the Dragon spacecraft in a spectacular launch event. The spacecraft, designed for the International Space Station, has been launched with multiple supplies including the first 3D printer in space and a troop of 20 mice. The Dragon space capsule was launched unmanned into the orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:52 a.m. EDT (0552 GMT) and exactly ten minutes later, it had reached orbit and had separated itself from the Falcon 9. It is being expected that the Dragon would reach the space station today on September 23rd.
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In a post launch briefing, the company’s vice president of mission assurance, Hans Koenigsmann, said "Nothing like a good launch -- it's just fantastic. Everything was really perfect."
The dragon has been sent with 2.5 tons of cargo to the space station for NASA and this mission is SpaceX's fourth of 12 delivery missions for the U.S. space agency under a $1.6 billion deal. The launch was initially supposed to take place on Saturday (Sept. 20) but was delayed due to rain and a thick cloud cover but there have been no complaints since the Sunday launch as flawless. The clear sky and stars facilitated the perfect pre dawn launch on Sunday morning and according to reporters, Sam Scimemi, NASA's International Space Station director said that the Falcon 9 appeared to be soaring though the constellation Orion after it took off and he commented "It was a beautiful night.”
The cargo onboard the Dragon also includes food, care packages and provisions for NASA's astronauts and apart from this there NASA says that there is other strategically important stuff on board which includes experiments and equipment that will eventually help scientists complete 255 research projects in total. An instrument dubbed RapidScat is also being carried by Dragon in its trunk. This instrument, which will be installed outside the space station, will be used to measure the speed and direction of ocean winds on Earth. We previously talked about the experiments on board and among these is a materials-science test from the sports company Cobra Puma Golf designed to build a stronger golf club.
The first space-grade 3D printer is also a big phenomenon which is being hauled by the Dragon and is built by Made in Space. The printer will be used to test whether the on-the-spot manufacturing technology is viable without gravity.
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