by Dr. Ken Kremer, Universe Today and AAAP
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – In mid-April I was an eyewitness to the blastoff of the latest SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station. With my press pass from Universe Today, I watched the launch from the roof of the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) where all the shuttles and Apollo Saturn V Moon rockets were assembled for launch. I also visited the SpaceX rocket and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch pad hours before the launch to set up my sound activated cameras within about 200 feet of the Falcon 9 rocket. It’s always an awesome privilege to be on the front lines of history.
Finally after a 24-hour delay due to threatening clouds, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soared spectacularly to orbit on April 14, carrying the Dragon CRS-6 cargo freighter on a science supply run to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission will help pave the way for deep space human missions to the Moon, asteroids and Mars using NASA’s new Orion capsule and SLS rocket.
SpaceX also attempted to soft land and recover the 14-story tall first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. It came close by landing on an ocean-going barge a few hundred miles off shore in the Atlantic Ocean, but tipped over due to excess lateral velocity after landing, and broke apart and exploded. SpaceX will try again on the next ISS mission in mid-June.
Overall CRS-6 was the sixth SpaceX commercial resupply services mission and the seventh trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the station since 2012. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to deliver 20,000 kg (44,000 pounds) of cargo to the station during a dozen Dragon cargo spacecraft flights through 2016 under NASA’s original Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
Dragon was packed with more than 4,300 pounds (1915 kilograms) of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, crew supplies, spare parts, food, water, clothing and assorted research gear for the six person Expedition 43 and 44 crews serving aboard the ISS, including the 1-year crew with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. It successfully rendezvoused with the Earth-orbiting outpost on April 17, three-day after launch.
For complete details check out my articles and photos at Universe Today.
Astronomy Outreach by Dr. Ken Kremer
SpaceX Launches: Jun 17-20, NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL. Evening outreach at Quality Inn, Titusville, FL