Sunday, February 19, 2017

SpaceX Dragon Launches from Apollo Pad to Resupply Space Station

A SpaceX Dragon capsule has successfully launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on a mission to resupply the International Space Station.

From the same launchpad used to send men to the Moon during the Apollo missions, the Commercial Resupply Services(CRS)-10 mission blasted off at 9:39 a.m. Eastern Time bound for the orbiting laboratory.
CRS-10 lifted off from the historic Launch Complex 39A at 9:39 a.m. EST
credit: NASA

Today's events mark the first time a rocket has roared to life at Pad 39A since the final flight of the space shuttle programme in July 2011.

Just eight minutes after launch, the rocket's expended first stage fell back to Earth, fired its engines, before successfully landing upright for the second time at SpaceX's Landing Zone-1 -  around 15 kilometers south of Launch Complex 39.

The vehicle will arrive at the space station on early on Monday, February 22 carrying science research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory in support of the Expedition 50 and 51 crews.

Among the investigations are experiments with potential to fight human disease and a new autonomous spacecraft docking technology for testing.

From the station's Cupola, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough alongside European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet will capture Dragon with the station's robotic arm, Canadarm-2(Grapple is scheduled at 6 a.m.) before flight controllers in Mission Control in Houston berth Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module a few hours later.

Today's launch marks the beginning of the tenth Dragon resupply ship to fly to the International Space Station and the first commercial flight from Pad-39A.

Dragon was originally scheduled to launch a day earlier on February 18, but a problem with the positioning of the vehicle's second stage engine nozzle led to an abort at T-13 seconds.

Just two days after Dragon's arrival to the station, the Russian Progress 66 resupply craft will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:58 a.m. EST on February 22 to deliver food, fuel and supplies to the International Space Station, followed by manual docking on Friday morning.

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