Saturday, January 10, 2015

SpaceX Rocket Stage Crashes On Drone Ship After Launch

Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida
Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Photo Credit: SpaceX


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule filled with more than 5,200 pounds of cargo bound for the International Space Station (ISS) at 4:47 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


SpaceX First Stage Hard Lands On Drone Ship

For the first time in space history, SpaceX attempted to land its Falcon 9 first stage rocket onto an autonomous spaceport drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean following the launch.


The attempt resulted in mixed success for SpaceX.  The first stage made it to the drone ship in fog and pitch black darkness - but it hard landed and broke into pieces.


"Unfortunately we weren’t able to get good landing video because of the dark and fog, but we are in the process of evaluating invaluable telemetry data which will inform future attempts," SpaceX announced on its blog.


"Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted following the attempt.  "Ship itself is fine. Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced."

SpaceX autonomous drone ship.  Photo Credit: SpaceX.

Dragon Capsule to Rendezvous with ISS on Monday

Meanwhile, the Dragon capsule is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS  on Monday, January 12.  Dragon's cargo will support more than 250 experiments that will be conducted by the station’s Expeditions 42 and 43 crews.


“We are delighted to kick off 2015 with our first commercial cargo launch of the year,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Thanks to our private sector partners, we've returned space station resupply launches to U.S. soil and are poised to do the same with the transport of our astronauts in the very near future. Today’s launch not only resupplies the station, but also delivers important science experiments and increases the station’s unique capabilities as a platform for Earth science with delivery of the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS instrument. I congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams who have made today’s success possible."