SpaceX managed to deliver to orbit their cargo Dragon spacecraft on the top of the Falcon-9FT rocket. It was 100th launch from Launch Site 39A, eleventh mission contracted under CRS program and second Dragon flight in 2017.
Rocket was launched from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. After two days of delay caused by storms, heavy rains and lightnings over Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX managed to deliver cargo spacecraft to orbit. Today’s flight was performed flawlessly and confirmed that Falcon-9 & Dragon combination is reliable and proven solution. This mission covered delivering 1737 kg of pressurized and 1573 unpressurized cargo to Low Earth Orbit (Inclination 51.6°) inside C106 Dragon spacecraft. This particular vehicle was already used at the beginning of the CRS program in 2014. It served during CRS-4 mission and was launched on the top of the predecessor of Falcon-9FT, Falcon-9 1.1V on 21 September 2014. Docking of the Dragon CRS-11 is planned for 5th June to Harmony Nadir or Unity Nadir docking port.
Today’s launch preparations started with elevating rocket to vertical position at 10:45 UTC. Launch was planned for 21:07 UTC with first weather forecasts giving 60% probability of violating launch by weather. Still later forecasts were better and were giving 60% launch probability. Testing procedure and fueling was finished just planned at 20:52 UTC. Rocket was switched to internal power at 21:05 UTC and launched punctually at 21:07 UTC. After 60 seconds rocket reached sound barrier. After 180 seconds of flight, rocket jettisoned first stage and second stage started its engine to deliver Dragon to designated orbit. At 23:16 UTC Dragon was delivered to planned orbit and successfully deployed from second stage at 21:18 UTC. Vehicle started its 48 space chase to meet with ISS in Monday.
In the meantime after separation performed at 21:10 UTC, first stage of Falcon-9FT performed flip maneuver and begun its flight to Earth. After first burns booster was stabilized and prepared to reentry performed at 23:12 UTC. At 23:14 booster performed reentry burn to reduce speed and deployed its fins and legs. At T+21:15 UTC it finally touched Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.