Now tomorrow has two exciting launches to watch from a future-of-reusable-spacecraft perspective. In the afternoon, of course there is the next Falcon 9 launch attempt with DSCOVR on board. But in the morning, a Vega rocket is scheduled to blast off from Kourou in French Guiana to boost the IXV experimental reusable lifting body intended to feed into a future European manned space program. It’s planned to splash down in the Pacific after its autonomous mission is over. It is too small for a crewed capsule; this is a subscale test article to validate the reentry technology.
Tag Archives: CRS-5
It was just too windy at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX fueled anyway, just in case, but the winds never settled down and they are now draining the tanks. Tomorrow the forecast is better for their second attempt to land the first stage.
But SpaceX will still be landing something today: the CRS-5 Dragon separated from the ISS this morning, and will splash down west of California this afternoon (Pacific time). Here’s the unberthing video:
CATS, an experiment studying cloud aerosols (rather like predecessors CloudSAT and CALIPSO in the A-Train constellation), has been installed on the ISS. One of the unique features of the SpaceX Dragon that makes it so useful to NASA is its large unpressurized “trunk” section, which the station’s DEXTRE robot can easily reach into to extract payloads for installation on the exterior. The CATS instrument was delivered in this way, and installed on the Japanes Kibo module’s Exposed Facility. SSRMS picked up the DEXTRE robot, maneuvered it into position, allowed DEXTRE to extend the appropriate arm, and then slid it into the Dragon trunk. DEXTRE unfastened the CATS instrument, grappled it, and then withdrew it from the trunk. SSRMS then swung both around towards the Japanese module. The Japanese arm then received CATS from DEXTRE and installed it on the EF.
A job well done. 😉 Here’s teh short version, along with some other cool stuff they’re doing at the ISS right now:
And here’s a longer time-lapse (without sound) if you really want to see how the whole sequence went:
It’s obviously not a good landing, but they came pretty close as you can see in this video. Good rate of descent, good targeting, but with the loss of the control vanes at a critical moment, they came down askew, and then it looks like it tried to compensate, resulting in the rocket slamming into the side of the barge and exploding, sending debris flying right off the other side of the deck. Still, not too bad; they’re getting very close to doing this.
The CRS-5 Dragon has arrived at the ISS with its cargo, and the crew are happy to get their groceries. 😉
Meanwhile, SpaceX’s leased self-stabilizing barge, the Marmac 300, has arrived back at port with some relatively minor damage and a few bits of the rocket on top. Most of the rocket seems to have fallen off; control was lost in the final stages of landing, so that’s not too surprising. They expect to be ready to go again in time for the next Falcon 9 launch at the end of the month.
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!
The first landing test during an actual mission of a Falcon 9 first stage is now set for Saturday, so don’t bother getting up extra early on Friday. 😉 New launch target is 4:47 AM EST (3:47 AM CST, or 9:47 AM GMT).