Originally planned for liftoff yesterday, the SpaceX CRS-10 mission lifted off at 8:39AM EST this morning on it’s Falcon 9 booster to deliver a Dragon cargo vehicle to the International Space Station. The original planned launch yesterday was scrubbed due to faults in the second stage thrust vector control system. These faults were fixed overnight by installing a new system into the booster, and everything went as normal during launch. It was an overcast morning at KSC, so soon after liftoff the booster was hidden by the clouds, but it eventually showed itself to cameras further downrange and provided good onboard footage for much of its flight.
This wasn’t an ordinary launch, however. Well, it was, but it’s place of origin wasn’t – this mission launched from LC-39 at the Kennedy Space Center, the same pads used for most of the Apollo missions (including all of the Moon landings) as well as a bulk of the Space Shuttle missions.
This was the first launch in 5 years from that pad. The last launch from LC-39A was the launch of Atlantis on the final Space Shuttle mission. This launch was the first in commercial use of the launch pad a NASA facilities for commercial space programs, something I have somewhat mixed feelings on (more on that in the future), and marks the beginning of future manned launches of crews to the ISS under the Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX using LC-39A, and Boeing and United Launch Alliance using LC-41 with Atlas V will allow us to launch crews from American soil again, without having to rely on Russian boosters and vehicles (not that I see anything wrong with that inherently, again, more on that in the future).
It’s an interesting time for space flight, much akin to that of the period between 1975 and 1981 and the last Apollo and first Shuttle missions. However, this is quite different in the same way, as this doesn’t mark the transition between two NASA programs, but an entire change as to how NASA gets things done.
This isn’t by NASA’s choice, however. I feel that should be noted. Take if for what you will.
Oh, and of last note, the Falcon 9 1st stage made a successful landing at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Another booster brought back, which is great, but when are they going to re-fly one? That’s the other necessary half to proving the tech and processing is solid.
More to come, including the launch livestream and the like, and more articles on LC-39A and other space subjects.