My daughter has an assignment to watch the Moon over the new four night and see how it changes. Which, unfortunately, may be difficult given the weather forecast, but maybe we’ll watch it on a webcam if it’s raining. So tonight we went out to see the Moon. She observed that it was a thin, waxing crescent, and Venus was nearby. Then I got my telescope out, and we looked at it through that. Both of my daughters loved it; it’s amazing — the Moon is the most familiar object in the night sky, and yet seeing it through a telescope is astonishing. Transformative, the first time, but it never loses its charm. Tonight, it was difficult to see Earthshine with the naked eye, but through the telescope it was quite obvious. Then we looked at Venus (too bright to make out the crescent shape) and Jupiter. Jupiter’s quite nice right now. The seeing was good tonight as well, and I was able to go all the way up to my most powerful lens without any difficulty. The cloud bands were clearly visible, and we could see all four Galilean satellites. That’s another thing that tends to be transformative, the first time you see it, because the moons are something you can’t see with your naked eye — and yet clearly, there they are. I only wish Saturn were also up, because that’s always a winner as well. But it is bedtime, and we can’t stay up long enough for the darker sky targets. Little ones need rest, before they go to school tomorrow. 😉
Oh, and the CRS-6 Dragon capsule has returned safely to Earth. So that’s your space news for today. 😉
This is taken from an aircraft watching the landing from a safe distance. It goes all the way to where the rocket tips over and goes splat. It disappears into the clouds of steam it has kicked up, and then KABOOM! Certainly a dramatic way to end a mission. Hopefully the next one is better. 😉 They seem to be learning from each flight — this one appears to be better targeted than the last one was. In a few days, the barge will return to port with whatever debris is still on it and they’ll be able to recover video from there. Should be interesting.
Meanwhile, the CRS-6 Dragon is in good health and on track for capture and berthing at the ISS on Friday.
EDIT: Scroll to the bottom of this post for landing pics!
The sixth operational Dragon flight to the ISS is on its way! This video goes all the way through solar array deployment. Watch closely after stage separation around 3:30; you can see the first stage attitude control thrusters firing to control its orientation in preparation for turning it around to return to the ground. The ground video briefly follows the spent first stage before coverage returns to the ascending second stage and payload.
The launch was a complete success, but the landing was reportedly not; I don’t have details yet, but it sounds like the first stage hit too hard and possibly fell over. To be honest, just hitting the barge is pretty impressive, but they have work still to do. That’s all built into their incremental design approach. Once I have more (hopefully video!) I will post it.
EDIT: There’s more! SpaceX has released stills from the landing:
Falcon 9 first stage descending towards the barge
About to touch down, Falcon 9’s first stage appears to be on track for a successful landing!
And then things seem to go south; it’s tipping over. Still, it’s an improvement over the last landing, definitely.