SpaceX Falcon 9-Dragon CRS-5 launch successful! (First stage landing less so, but definite progress.)

The CRS-5 mission to the ISS launched successfully this morning, putting an end to the delays and scrubs.  The spacecraft is in good health after arrival in orbit and has begun its two-day chase of the space station.  The Falcon 9 rocket performed flawlessly on its primary mission; the secondary mission of landing the first stage on a remotely-operated self-stabilizing barge was less successful.  The return was flawless and the aim was perfect, but the hydraulic fluid used to control the “x-wing” vanes was depleted prematurely, the necessary quantity of fluid having been underestimated by an estimated 10%.  Consequently, it was unable to slow itself enough and it impacted the barge fairly hard.  Video is unavailable; due to precession of the ISS’s orbit around Earth over multiple launch delays, the liftoff had slipped well into the early morning hours in complete darkness, and high humidity further affected visibility.  But SpaceX will be analyzing the telemetry, and, according a tweet from Elon Musk, bits of the Falcon 9 first stage and preparing to try again on another launch.

There’s decent video of the launch, though!  Watch towards the end, after SECO (Second Engine Cut-Off) when the video inside the LOX tank shows droplets of LOX floating around in microgravity, and then watch Dragon unfurl her wings.  😉  It’s beautiful!


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