Earlier today I made a post on their successful launch, separation, and initiation of orbit.
|Launch today at KSC of Falcon 9 with Dragon by SpaceX|
Around 10:30am EST SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 launch vehicle with a Dragon crew/cargo capsule on it from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After reaching orbit, Dragon separated from the second stage of the vehicle and proceeded to circle our blue dot (i.e. orbit earth). For space nerds like myself, watching the SpaceX webcast of these events was cause for mass celebration!
|Second stage engine with nose cone falling back to earth|
Around 2:30pm EST Dragon did a re-entry burn, entered the atmosphere, deployed parachutes, and splashed down. SUCCESS!
This feat made SpaceX the first commercial company EVER to conduct the re-entry of spacecraft from low earth orbit. Big balls! :-D
All of this was part of a demonstration SpaceX conducted for NASA and the US Government on a program called "COTS". Essentially this program is designed to commercial spaceflight to service the International Space Station (ISS). The immediate goal is to service cargo to and from the ISS, with the strong possibility of rotating crew...eventually.
|Business end of the Falcon 9 with 9 liquid rocket engines|
Today's success is a huge milestone for SpaceX and commercial spaceflight in general. This is a big win for the US, a relatively small company, and the hopes of many that believe commercial spaceflight is the way of the future (at least to low earth orbit aka LEO). Respect to SpaceX and it's team that made this happen. Don't forget NASA and the US Government though - they are footing some of the bill here, and essentially creating the "marketplace" by creating contracts for SpaceX (and others, like Orbital Sciences Corp) to service ISS.
All in all, a very good day for space and spaceflight. Grab a pint, and toast to the stars tonight!
*note: I've got some video and other pictures I will add later, please check back tonight or tomorrow for another update!