Sunday 21 September 2014

SpaceX Launches Dragon Cargo Ship for NASA

The private spaceflight company SpaceX lit up the night sky over Florida early Sunday (Sept. 21) with the spectacular launch of Dragon spacecraft packed with supplies -- including the first 3D printer in space and a troop of 20 mice -- for the International Space Station.
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The unmanned Dragon space capsule launched into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:52 a.m. EDT (0552 GMT). Ten minutes later, Dragon reached orbit and separated from the Falcon 9. It should reach the space station on Tuesday, Sept. 23.
"Nothing like a good launch -- it's just fantastic," Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of mission assurance, said during a post-launch briefing. "Everything was really perfect." [See photos from the SpaceX-4 Dragon mission]

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Dragon is carrying about 2.5 tons of cargo to the space station for NASA. The mission is SpaceX's fourth of 12 delivery missions for the U.S. space agency under a $1.6 billion deal. Sunday's flawless launch occurred one day after rain and thick clouds forced SpaceX to delay the launch on early Saturday (Sept. 20).
But skies were clear and the stars were out during the pre-dawn launch on Sunday morning. Sam Scimemi, NASA's International Space Station director, told reporters that the Falcon 9 appeared to be soaring though the constellation Orion after it took off.
"It was a beautiful night," Scimemi said.

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