Friday, April 08, 2016

they did it!

4:07 PM. Dialed into CRS-8 launch. Just ahead of the T-35 mark.

The CRS-8 mission from Florida to the International Space Station is to deliver supplies and experiments. There are mice on board! In addition, it is taking uphill the Bigelow inflatable module.

The SpaceFlightNow web site appeared to be working. I also opened the SpaceX web page. This time I decided to monitor the technical feed from SpaceX.

I looked at the mission patch. Eight stars show but the 7th is dimmed.

Falcon 9 on the launch pad

Looks like a good day to fly. The good conditions also bode well for a barge landing attempt. [Image A.]

On Facebook, Catherine asked who was watching. Started up a chat. Katrina arrived home just in time. I looped her in.

close-up of Falcon 9 on the launch pad

Nice view of the Falcon 9 rocket from the SpaceX technical feed. [Image B.]

Falcon 9 in hold-down clamps

Just before ignition of the nine Merlin engines. [Image C2.] Missed the shot a few seconds later... Couldn't grab screen snapshots fast enough.

lift-off of the Falcon 9

Lift off! On time. The official launch time was 4:43:00.000. Nice. The rocket cleared the towers. [Image C1.]

left: Falcon 9 high above barge; right: second stage motor

Watch the left screen. Watch the left! Speed good, alignment good... It was tilting into the wind, a 50 mph wind. On the right, the Merlin vacuum engine was running nominally. [Image D1.]

Falcon 9 about 50 metres above the barge

Looks good! Slowing. [Image L3.]

left: rocket about 25 metres above barge; right: second stage motor

Slowing! GPS on the barge. GPS on the rocket. [Image L2.]

left: rocket metres above barge; right: second stage motor

Crikey, it's gonna land! [Image K.]

left: rocket on barge; right: second stage motor

Wow. Wow. They did it... The Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on the autonomous spaceport drone ship called Of Course I Still Love You. And it was actually... graceful. [Image E1.]

left: rocket on barge, white caps; right: second stage motor, glare

They actually did it. And those seas are not exactly smooth... The pitch and roll was about 2 to 3 degrees. [Image F2.]

left: rocket on barge; right: second stage separating from Dragon

Second stage separation. What an amazing launch! Musk says that there's no reason that recovered rockets can't be relaunched dozens of times. Or one hundred. [Image F1.]

left: rocket on barge; right: second stage falling away

SpaceX has made history. The landing is detracting from the main mission, getting the Dragon to the ISS. Two major milestones. [Image G1.]

first Dragon solar array deploying

First solar array deployed. [Image H1.]

second Dragon solar array deploying

Second array extending. [Image H2.]

second Dragon solar array deployed

Fully deployed. Dragon is on its way to the LEO outpost, to be grappled Sunday morning. And to join Cygnus... [Image J1.]

Falcon 9 safely landed on barge drone ship

Just look at that. [Image J2.]

SpaceX brought a first stage rocket back to the ground in December; now they've touched-down at sea. No one has done this. No one. On this planet.

left: aerial view of barge; right: view from onboard barge

What an amazing sight. [Image J3.]

Today is gonna be one of those days... "Where were you when...?"


BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) will be installed mid-April, pretty quickly. Inflation is scheduled around May 25 or 26.

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