My piece on today’s historic flight is up now, over at AOL News.
That last post on the Dragon launch wasn’t supposed to be published — it’s going up at AOL News a little later. It picked up sixteen comments before I realized that I’d hit the wrong button. I’ll look through them and maybe repost them here.
I got up this morning, and had no bandwidth, so I missed the SpaceX webcast, but I watched the launch on Fox News. Poking around some, now that I’m back on line, I see that they went into orbit. I’m assuming that it was a clean insertion (no unanticipated roll, as there was in June). Now comes the fun part. It’s supposed to do just a couple orbits, so it should be entering and coming down in the Pacific late morning, PST. Congratulations to SpaceX on mission success to date.
[Update at 9:17 PST]
Alan Boyle has a story. I’ll probably have one at AOL News later, but I want to wait to see how the entry/recovery goes (by the way, one of my pet peeves is the word “reenter,” which everyone uses, but implies that it has entered before — only the Shuttle has ever done that…).
[Update a few minutes later]
At the request of a commenter, here’s one of the first Youtubes out.
[Update shortly after deorbit burn]
Here’s more video.
OK, I’m hearing that drogue and all three main chutes have deployed. Still no word on first-stage recovery. Anyone else heard anything?
Thoughts on limited government (which isn’t about the size of government).
SpaceX has just announced an attempt at 9:03 EST tomorrow.
As usual, follow the money, and in this case, there’s a lot.
I missed or, rather, didn’t see the president’s news conference today. But Rich Lowry did:
Only someone who desperately hates the position he’s in now, having to try to accommodate political realities in a center-right country and kiss his former messiahship goodbye, would show such peevishness. We got a good look behind the curtain for a moment this afternoon, and it wasn’t pretty.
I’m guessing we’re going to see a lot more of that in the next two years. And it won’t bode well for his reanointment.
[Update a couple minutes later]
“If this deal gave people the belief that Obama might grow in office, the press conference probably deep-sixed that.
[Update a few minutes later]
Remember all that nonsense from the David Brookses and Chris Buckleys of the world in 2008 about his “first-class temperament”? It’s hard to take anything they tell us seriously, at this point.
I just got an email from Stephanie Bednarek:
The demonstration launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft has been rescheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, December 8. The delay is due to a crack in the engine nozzle on the rocket’s second Stage that was discovered during a routine review of close-out photos of the rocket on Monday. More information on the launch schedule will be announced when available.
This will be the first-ever test flight of a Dragon spacecraft, an entirely new spacecraft designed in the last decade, and only the second test flight of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. It also marks the first time a commercial company is attempting to re-enter a spacecraft from orbit. As noted in a recent Wall Street Journal Article:
“Placing the vehicle into a such an orbit at speeds exceeding 17,000 miles per hour, then maneuvering through a fiery reentry and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean will require a flawless trajectory, a reliable heat shield and finally, perfect operation of the redundant parachutes.”
This will also be the first flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station. After the Space Shuttle retires, SpaceX will fly at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Services contract for NASA. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal. An informational fact sheet on the COTS program is attached for your reference.
This has been a strong government-commercial partnership. SpaceX has only come this far by building upon the incredible achievements of NASA, having NASA as an anchor tenant for launch, and receiving expert advice and mentorship throughout the development process. With the savings NASA will see by using SpaceX for low-Earth transportation, billions of dollars are freed up for other activities such as accelerating exploration efforts that go beyond low-Earth orbit, advanced telescopes and Earth science missions.
SpaceX plans to broadcast the entire launch live at www.spacex.com. NASA TV will also provide coverage.
So, it could still happen tomorrow. Best of luck.