‘Picture Perfect’ Liftoff For SpaceX Dragon’s Historic Mission
By Ed Pierce // October 8, 2012
Historic Resupply Mission Heads To ISS
BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – The Dragon is speeding toward another rendezvous with destiny.
At 8:35 p.m. Sunday, the SpaceX unmanned Dragon spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in a picture-perfect launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first-ever private cargo mission to the International Space Station.
About 70 seconds into the flight, the Falcon 9 rocket achieved supersonic speed and 55 seconds later was traveling about 10 times the speed of sound at a distance of 56 miles above Earth.
After main engine cutoff, the Falcon 9’s first and second stages separated and the second stage positioned the Dragon perfectly into orbit before total rocket separation.
Deploying its solar arrays, Dragon then accomplished a number of thrusts intended to start a course to the International Space Station.
From there it will take the spacecraft until Wednesday before it reaches the space station.
Once captured by the space station’s robotic arm used by astronauts, the Dragon will be bolted into place to the ISS.
Then on Thursday, the ISS astronauts start hauling more than 1,000 pounds of cargo carried by the Dragon onto the space station.
Supplies include replacement electronics equipment, material to be used for a number of scientific experiments to be performed by astronauts, clean clothing for the astronauts and a resupply of food including ice cream.
Over the course of the Dragon’s 18-day stay at the ISS, the astronauts also will pack cargo aboard the spacecraft for the return flight back to Earth. It is expected that return flight cargo will be more than 1,200 pounds including computer equipment, completed science experiments and dirty laundry.
The established date for Dragon to undock from the ISS and return to Earth is Oct. 28 with a splashdown and capsule recovery planned off trhe coast of Baja California.
Back in May, the SpaceX commercial aerospace company successfully demonstrated the capability of using the Dragon to reach the ISS.
This mission, called CRS-1, is the first of 12 unmanned SpaceX cargo flights to the ISS underv the provisions of a $1.6 million contract between SpaceX and NASA.