With an instantaneous launch window SpaceX only had one shot at getting the Falcon 9 off the ground tonight and they managed it perfectly. With a by the book countdown everything went exactly as planned until T-3 seconds when the 9 Merlin engines roared into life. Three seconds later the Falcon 9 Rocket was on its way into space.
The first stage hauled the capsule with 882 lbs of supplies into the skies on a nominal flight path. When the propellant was depleted the engines shut down, the first and second stages separated and the second stage ignited.
The second stage powered the Dragon capsule into orbit with a six minute burn. After achieving an orbit of between 192 and just over 200 miles the second stage separated from the Dragon spacecraft and the capsule was then in successful orbit.
A few minutes after the separation the Dragon deployed its solar panels once again everything went exactly to plan. The entire launch was a 100% total success.
The Dragon will rendezvous with the International Space Station on Wednesday 10th October at 7:22am EDT (11:22 GMT).
Well done SpaceX. NASA now has a proven supply spacecraft to transport supplies and experiments to and from the ISS once again.
Continue reading for the SpaceX press release:
SPACEX LAUNCHES FIRST OFFICIAL CARGO RESUPPLY MISSION TO SPACE STATION
Cape Canaveral, FL — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) today successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 SpaceX missions to the space station under the company’s cargo resupply contract with NASA. On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station’s Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station hardware.
Dragon – the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth — will return with scientific materials and space station hardware.
The Falcon 9 rocket, powered by nine Merlin engines, performed nominally today during every phase of its approach to orbit, including two stage separations, solar array deployment, and the final push of Dragon into its intended orbit. Dragon will now chase the space station before beginning a series of burns that will bring it into close proximity to the station. If all goes well, Dragon will attach to the complex on October 10 and spend over two weeks there before an expected return to Earth on October 28.
“We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission,” said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technical Officer, SpaceX. “We still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon’s approach to the space station. But the launch was an unqualified success.”
The CRS-1 mission follows a historic demonstration flight last May when SpaceX’s Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to attach to the space station, exchange cargo, and return safely to Earth. The flight signaled restoration of American capability to resupply the space station, not possible since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.