Vehicle is orbital Images from todays SpaceX launch

first_imgAs SpaceX’s Falcon rocket hurdles away from Earth at a rate of over 5 kilometers per second, it’s a good time to review what just happened. We’ve had access to video streams of a number of launches over the past year or two, but the launch process — for most of us — never gets old. The introduction of the privately held SpaceX to the group of NASA-approved contractors has also increased excitement, as the company is highly innovative and excellent at marketing both its skills and technology.This morning’s launch started as all streamed launches do, with a rocket sitting between a few towers. It features the requisite gases releasing from all the right places and within a few minutes the “S” on the rocket’s vertical SpaceX logo was missing, likely covered by frost from the decompressing fuel tanks.One the launch started things moved along smoothly, with the Falcon gaining altitude and speed just as quickly as you’d expect from a huge rocket. The launch was not as explosive, shaky, or smoke-filled as those of yesteryear — at least it didn’t seem that way — rather it was a graceful takeoff and ascent into the Florida sky.Soon the rocket was reaching the upper levels of our atmosphere, traveling faster than before. It surpasses the 1 kilometer per second mark while barely seeming to be above the cloud cover.The first stage separation went smoothly, with the Earth still covering up nearly the entire frame of the video. At this point pneumatic pushers sent the rear component of the Falcon away from the rest of the craft, exposing the the nozzle of the Merlin vacuum engine.The Merlin fires without visible smoke but the speed of the craft was still increasing and the Earth is getting smaller within the video. You can see the separated component drifting away, like just another piece of space junk.Within just a few minutes the second stage was released, so that the Dragon spacecraft was separated from the rest of the stage components. At this point the Dragon was in orbit and headed towards the ISS.With the hard work done, the people at launch command in Cape Canaveral, Florida can take a moment for a quick high-five. Judging from the number of empty desks there may have been some off-camera partying or possibly some bathroom breaks.The engineers at Hawthorne, California are still working away. With the launch over and the Dragon headed towards the ISS, there is still much work to be done.Apparently the capsule suffered some sort of glitch after the Dragon separation. This was reported as an issue with releasing the solar arrays, but it seems like there is now a problem with the thrusters, according to Elon Musk’s Twitter feed.For now the solar array deployment has been delayed and the team is working on fixing the thrusters. We’ll have to seen what this means for the docking procedure with the ISS and the ultimate success of the mission.And the replay feed:last_img read more