SpaceX Press Release:
Cape Canaveral, FL — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) 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, on Sunday October 7.
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 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 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.
The flight survived what looks like a RUD of an engine. SpaceX says engine 1 had problems and was shut down. That the Falcon 9 survived the loss of an engine and still logged a nominal flight makes it the safest vehicle currently flying. Any other current launch vehicle in the world would have – given an engine failure – recorded a loss of mission.
Congratulations to SpaceX. Good luck in getting to the ISS and getting back to earth.
CRS-1 main data: only 400 kg of net payload … $332,500 per kg paid by NASA … one 1st stage engine exploded (that’ very good for future crew launches) … high profits = low quality controls … but, this is the “commercial space” era, after all …
At the International Space Station ISS repairs are often needed on the exterior, the problem is it is a lot of work to send out a manned space walk to do this. Astronauts need oxygen and they have the problems of human error. Yet if we use robots, well they do not complain, unless programmed too. Robots in fact could spend months to fix something, astronauts five day space walk missions are about all we can muster right now and if we cannot get it done in time, imagine the cost for another launch. What about fatigue factors, which take a toll on the organic components of the human body? Costs to send up a space crew to do repairs can be millions if not billions of dollars.