SpaceX successfully launches its Dragon capsule to the ISS

Science 20 February, 2017

On Sunday, SpaceX launched a Dragon capsule for the ISS. This tenth refueling mission was also the first launch since the mythical 39A shooting point from which took off Apollo missions, space shuttles and from where will depart, as of mid-2018, astronauts aboard Crew Dragon. The main floor of the Falcon 9 returned safely to land. Thomas Pesquet is preparing to retrieve the capsule.

Business resumes for SpaceX. More than five months after a Falcon 9 launcher hit the ground and a month after the January 14th flight (and the deployment of the first ten Iridium Next satellites ), SpaceX resumed launches to the Space Station The international community . Originally scheduled for Saturday, the shot had been canceled only 13 seconds before the engines fired . Finally, the launcher took off Sunday at 15:38. The mooring of the Dragon is scheduled Wednesday, February 22. The capsule will be captured by the Canadarm 2 robotic arm , piloted by astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough.
The main stage of the launcher was again recovered. It landed on shore , on Landing Zone 1 , located on the base of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station . This is the seventh time SpaceX manages to perform this maneuver (four times at sea and three times on the ground), which can be described as controlled. The next step is the return to flight of a recovered stage to be held in April with the launch of SES-10.

7 mn 33 s after take-off of the Falcon 9, the main stage of the launcher returned to land. He landed on Landing Zone 1 , a few kilometers from where he had taken off. © Nasa, SpaceX
The historic 39A firing point will be used by the astronauts of the Dragon V2 capsules
For this mission, the Dragon capsule carries 2.2 tons of food and equipment including the NASA Sgae III instrument ( Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment ). Jean-Pierre Pommereau, director of research emeritus at the CNRS involved in the mission, had explained to us its functioning and interest. This instrument uses the Hexapod Pointing System, produced by Thales Alenia Space on behalf of ESA . The capsule also includes (among others) two experiments to study how certain bacteria become resistant to treatments and how it can be remedied.
The pitcher took off from a firing point that may seem familiar to some. Indeed, the Falcon 9 took off from pitch 39A, launch pad 39 of the Kennedy Space Center! Apollo missions to the Moon in the late 1960s and space shuttles from 1981 to 2011 were launched. This is the first time this range has been reused since the last flight of A shuttle in July 2011. It is from there, too, that astronauts will be launched aboard a Dragon capsule in its inhabited version (Dragon V2 or Crew Dragon) from mid-2018.