SpaceX showed with this mission how perfect could be commercially performed launch.
This mission could serve as example when everything went according to plan. Just forty minutes before launch weather was described with only 10% chance for “not go”. Visibility was at 11 km with almost cloudless sky. Temperature in Cape Canaveral was around 23°C and wind had average speed at sea level of 32 km/h from west. Weather seemed to be perfect for launching rocket and what is not less important, for performing landing of the first stage on robotic vessel “Of Course I Still Love You”.
At T-8′, Falcon-9 1.2V remained on SLC-40, started engine cooling procedure. At T-3’42” strongback started to separate from Falcon. At T-3’05” FTS is set to armed and lowering strongback procedure was finished at T-2’44”. At T-1’53” Falcon-9 was switched to internal power, Launch Director engineer confirmed again – all is for launch. Punctually at 22:43:31 GMT Falcon-9 1.2v, with Dragon spacecraft on atop, lifted off. At T+1’00” rocket reached 6.9 km of altitude and was flying with speed at 965 km/h. Speed of sound was reached on altitude of 10.5 km in T+1’12”. Max Q point was reached at 1313 km/h on altitude of 11.7 km – rocket was put on maximal stress caused by dynamic pressure in that moment. At T+2’35” MECO was performed – 9 Merlin-1D engines in the first stage were cut off. After next eight seconds, at T+2’43” first and second stage separated on altitude of 77.1 km when rocket was flying with speed at 6496 km/h. After next three seconds second stage engine, single Merlin-1D Vacuum, started to work. At T+3’01” first stage performed flip maneuver and started to prepare for landing procedure. At T+3’25” Dragon deployed nose cone on altitude of 119 km and at T+3’42” payload fairing was jettisoned. At T+6’43” first stage relit three engines to reduce speed during falling and at T+7’00” first stage performed reentry. After 1 minute, at T+8’04” first stage started engines before landing on automatic vessel. At T+8’30” first stage was reaching landing pad on ”Of Course I Still Love You” vessel, while second stage reached altitude of with speed at 18417 km/h. At T+8’39” first stage is on landing pad and its engines are shut down. At T+10’31” Falcon-9 performed SECO – second stage cut off. Dragon started its autonomous flights after separation from second stage of the Falcon-9.
It was first mission of Dragon in 2016. Spacecraft will deliver to International Space Station 3136 kg of supplies and BEAM inflatable experimental ISS module by Bigelow Aerospace. Additional payload is experiments: biological material (live mice) for Rodent Research-3-Eli Lilly experiment, Microchannel Diffusion experiment on physics of fluids on atomic level and CASIS Protein Crystal Growth 4 experiment on crystallization processes. Dragon will also deliver to ISS sixteen Flock 2d 3U CubeSats which will be deployed to upgrade constellation of imaging satellites belonging to Planet Labs. It will dock to Harmony module berthing port on Sunday around 11:00 GMT.