With an airborne bud foam revolution from Cape Canaveral, Falcon 9 rocket was burnt into orbit early on Saturday with a Dragon cargo capsule following the International Space Station.
Less than nine minutes later, the rocket's first stage reinforcement fell from the sky and a busy landing was carried just offshore, setting the scene for another reintroduction mission to NASA using the same summer rocket. this using the same vehicle.
The rocket was raised 213 feet high (65 meters) with a flash of nine main Merlin machines 1D at 2:48:58 am EDT (0648: 58 GMT), roughly the moment Cape Canaveral rotated under space station orbit.
The Falcon 9 tilted north-eastwards to coincide with the space station flight path, marking 1.7 million pounds stuck in starry air. Less than two and a half minutes later, the consolidation phase closed the first stage of the rocket down and its separation to start falling back to Earth, targeting a SpaceX tune ship "Of Course I Still Love" t You've parked about 14 miles (22 kilometers) to the east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean.
The first step to illuminate three of his machines to start burning a boost to reverse the course and to go back towards the Florida Space Coast, while the upper stage of the Falcon 9 continued with Saturday's main mission – introducing Dragon cargo craft to orbit is full of 5,472 pounds (2,482 kilograms) of supplies, provisions and experiments for the station and a six person crew.
The interaction that pushed out of Merlin's first and second phase of the Falcon 9 produced a spectacular lighting effect, giving a cosmic nebula appearance above Florida's port.
The second stage fired for six minutes to put the Dragon supply ship in an introductory orbit. A little later, the automated spacecraft is being used from the top platform of Falcon 9 and displaces two solar panels that generate power, setting the stage for a series of heavier dances over the next two days. , leading to the spacecraft's attitude to the space station early on Monday.
Astronauts on the station will use a robotic arm to get to the Dragon's spacecraft, which will be transported to a port on the Harmony module for a period of almost a month.
The cargo dragon craft, which uses the same section under pressure which was flying from the front to the space station in August 2017, carrying crew supplies, spare parts, and t a host of experiments, ranging from biological investigations to the effects of space light on the body, to a carbon dioxide measuring instrument in the Earth's atmosphere, to a US military experiment developed in concert with NASA to show X-ray communication in space for the first time.
The restart mission is the 17th cargo launch to the station by SpaceX under a $ 3.04 billion contract for 20 cargo deliveries in early 2020. SpaceX has a separate follow-up contract for at least six reintroductions. to the station through 2024, along with a $ 2.6 billion Contract to build an advanced Dragon Crew spacecraft for ferry astronauts to and from the space station.
The Dragon's spacecraft is due to leave the space station on 3 June and take a walk in the Pacific, bringing home research specimens and other equipment.
A successful landing on a first step rocket consolidation Falcon 9 rocket after liftoff Saturday showed the launch of SpaceX's launch campaign for the next reopening to the space station, which is currently scheduled without earlier than July 8 from Cape Canaveral.
NASA and SpaceX have agreed to use the first step that flew on Saturday on the next cargo mission, designated as SpaceX CRS-18, and possibly on the following CRS-19 launch in December, officials said in Saturday morning press conference.
He made the first step of the rocket, which stood 15 stories high, his first trip to the edge of the space and back on a plane on Saturday. SpaceX has reused the first step reinforcement up to three times of the front, and the company says the latest generation of Falcon 9 reinforcements can fly up to 10 times before needing to be refurbished & # 39 n great.
SpaceX called for an early launch attempt on Friday to solve an electrical problem on the drone ship, a football football field size platform used for rocket landings at sea. This was the first time SpaceX delayed launching to ensure the recovery of the first step for reuse, the practice the company says is reducing costs and facilitating the end of rocket production at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne. , California.
“This is a case by case decision,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of construction and flight reliability of SpaceX. “This is a new vehicle. The booster is worth a lot of money. We want to restore it, obviously. This is more and more part of the mission, and it is important to keep the obvious. The same has been planned, right now, for the next CRS mission. We'll see how we're going, depending on the inspection and some other renewal items. ”
SpaceX has surrendered on landing its Falcon 9 consolidation of the front, most recently on last year's mission. Bad weather and rough seas prevented the SpaceX tone from reaching the Atlantic Ocean offshore landing site for launch in March 2018 by transporting Hispasat 30W-6 communication satellite.
SpaceX chose to proceed with the launch on time without restoring the first step reinforcement.
After Friday's launch abortions, SpaceX returned the drone ship to Canaveral Gate for repairs. The ship leaves port on Friday afternoon again.
The landing location for the first phase of the Falcon 9 on Saturday's mission was unusual. Most reintroductions to the space station do not use the full capacity of Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, leaving plenty of excess drive for the first step to reverse the course and to return to Cape Canaveral for a landing jetty.
But Spaceing's Landing Zone 1, which has been located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, is not available for this launch after Crew SpaceX's Crew capsule explosion during April 20. Parts of & # 39 The landing zone is still on restrictions for security reasons, according to Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of construction and flight reliability SpaceX.
Read our earlier story about the Crew Dragon crash.
For heavier trips that require more boost from the first step, SpaceX usually sets the drone ship hundreds of miles by sea, allowing the rocket to hit on a ballistic trajectory. , slowly, and then slow down for landing without having to return to Florida.
The parking space for the drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean was about 17 miles (28 kilometers) to the south-east of 40's launch boat allowing Falcon's first step to follow a return profile similar to & # 39; The one originally designed to bring the reinforcement back to Landing Zone 1.
A close “close” ship landing had to be achieved from the front, after a launch by Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in December.
As the black ship was so close to the shore, SpaceX had time to resolve the electrical issue on the landing stage in time for another launch launch on Saturday.
NASA agreed with the decision.
Kenny Todd, NASA's space station operations manager, told reporters after Saturday's launch that the one-day delay would not have any meaningful impact on science or maintenance schedules.
“In the end, when they said that this was what they wanted to do, knowing that we were today (a) the conditions (weather) were going to look much better today, certainly I was. 39 thought he was a very trade, ”said Todd. “From the station's space program, if we were going off the pad today, we would be fine for our research and we would be able to move forward with our mission.
“If the situation had been different from a station's perspective, we would certainly have included that conversation at a different level,” said Todd. “But he certainly didn't feel it was necessary yesterday.” T
The SpaceX launch team also argued with the threat of storms during Friday counts, and a helium loop in ground equipment at the launch pad. There seemed to be no issue likely to stop Friday's launch, but SpaceX wanted to restore the first step reinforcement.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 on the launch of the previous cargo, SpaceX CRS-16, in December, was dysfunctioned during its trace, forcing it to automatically switch from a planned return to the Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral to a water jetty. at sea.
The reinforcement landed whole, but he went over the sea. SpaceX pulled the platform back to the port, but the rockets are not designed to be reused after landing in salt water.
SpaceX was planning to re-fly that hub earlier this year by Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a mission to use three satellite observation Radarsat Canada in orbit. That launch was scheduled for February, but the December landing of the supporter landing forced SpaceX to find a different rocket for Radarsat's mission, postponing his loads off by months.
The California Radarsat Constellation Mission launch is now scheduled for June 11, using Falcon 9 reinforcement and first flown in March on the launch of Florida.
Todd said that NASA had a “personal interest” in a successful first recovery after Saturday's cargo launch.
“We want it, and the intention is to use it for SpaceX-18, certainly, and maybe 19,” said Todd. “So from our point of view, it made a difference. That was also in the back of mind. ”
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