SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon Capsule From Launch Complex 39A

Posted: Feb 20 2017, 5:43am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

SpaceX successfully launches Dragon capsule from Launch complex 39A

SpaceX was able to successfully land the Falcon 9 first stage

SpaceX has been working on renovating historic Launch Complex 39A where NASA sent the Apollo moon missions into space. On February 19, SpaceX made its first launch from that famous facility sending a Falcon 9 tipped with a robotic Dragon capsule into space to rendezvous with the ISS. SpaceX tweeted that the Dragon is on its way to the ISS and will be captured by the ISS crew early Wednesday morning.

SpaceX has been keen to land the first stage of the Falcon rockets to help reduce the costs of launches and has done so with varying success. This time out SpaceX was able to successfully land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket and provided a video of the successful landing. While SpaceX often lands its rockets on a barge floating in the ocean, this time out it landed the stage on a landing pad near the coast known as Landing Zone 1.

The landing went off perfectly with no apparent issues. The first and second stages of the Falcon 9 rocket separated 2.5 minutes into the launch. As that first stage landed, the second stage was still making its way into orbit. The astronaut at the controls of the robot arm on the ISS used to grab the capsule when it arrives later this week will be French astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Once the robotic arm grabs the capsule, ground control will take over and mate the Dragon capsule to the ISS.

As for what was aboard the Dragon capsule, this mission was science focused. "Consumable-wise, we're in great shape; we've got well above our reserve levels for food and water, so we've really dedicated this Dragon mission to the research," Dan Hartman, deputy manager for the ISS program, said during a briefing on February 17. "It's chock-full, and the crew's really going to enjoy the science we're getting ready to bring out."

The capsule contains 5,500 pounds of cargo and will head back to Earth after staying in space for 29 days with about 5,000 pounds of cargo. In the unpressurized section of the capsule for the trip to the ISS is the SAGE-III Earth monitoring tool that will be used to monitor ozone in the atmosphere. One of the experiments aboard the ISS is to test the superbug known as MRSA and see how it reacts and adapts in space.

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