KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blazed aloft on a spectacular middle of the night blastoff that turned night into day along the Florida Space coast today, Sept. 21, 2014, boosting a commercial cargo ship for NASA and loaded with 2.5 tons of ground breaking science experiments, 20 ‘mousetronauts’ and critical supplies for the human crew residing aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The SpaceX Dragon cargo vessel on the CRS-4 mission thundered to space on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:52 a.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, just hours after a deluge of widespread rain showers inundated central Florida.
“There’s nothing like a good launch, it’s just fantastic, ” said Hans Koenigsman, vice president of Mission Assurance for SpaceX at the post launch briefing. “From what I can tell, everything went perfectly.”
“We worked very hard yesterday and weather wasn’t quite playing along and today everything was beautiful.”
CRS-4 marks the company’s fourth resupply mission to the ISS under a .6 Billion contract with NASA to deliver 20, 000 kg (44, 000 pounds) of cargo to the ISS during a dozen Dragon cargo spacecraft flights through 2016.
The Dragon spacecraft is loaded with more than 5, 000 pounds of science experiments, spare parts, crew provisions, food, clothing, and supplies for the six person crews living and working aboard the ISS soaring in low Earth orbit under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.
“This launch kicks off a very busy time for the space station, ” said NASA’s Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station, noting upcoming launches of a Soyuz carrying the next three person international crew of the station and launches of other cargo spacecraft including the Orbital Sciences Antares/Cygnus around mid- October.
Today’s Falcon 9 launch had already been postponed 24 hours by continuing terrible weather all week long at Cape Canaveral which had also forced a more than two hour delay to the target liftoff of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Cape just four days earlier. Read my Atlas V launch story involving the completely clandestine CLIO satellite – here.
Rather amazingly given the awful recent weather, Falcon 9 streaked to orbit under a beautifully star filled nighttime sky.
Sunday’s launch brilliantly affirmed the ability of SpaceX to fire off their Falcon 9 rockets at a rapid pace since it was the second launch in less than two weeks, and the fourth over the past ten weeks. The prior Falcon 9 successfully launched the AsiaSat 6 commercial telecom satellite from the Cape on Sept. 7 – detailed here.
The CRS-4 missions marks the birth of a new era in Earth science aboard the massive million pound orbiting space station. The trunk of the Dragon is loaded with the $30 Million ISS-Rapid Scatterometer to monitor ocean surface wind speed and direction.
NASA Commercial Crew Human Spaceflight Program for Transport to the International Space Station (ISS): SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Contracts, Safety Reviews, History and Update Reports
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