Return of the Dragon

This morning was the launch of the second SpaceX dragon capsule mission, officially designated mission CRS-2.  It launched at 10:10am today, Friday, March 1st from Cape Canaveral space launch complex 40.

A bit of background on Dragon: 

The two-stage rocket uses 9 engines to power the first stage out of the atmosphere, before the single rocket stage 2 takes the capsule the rest of the way.  The 14.4 foot tall dragon capsule is capable of carrying more than 7000 lbs of cargo split between pressurized and unpressurized sections.

On March 2nd, Astronauts will use the CanadaArm 2 to grab onto the capsule and unload the contents.  The crew will also load more than 2600 lbs of experiment samples and equipment for return to Earth during a scheduled parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of California on March 25th.

This is the second of at least 12 planned missions by SpaceX for commercial resupply purposes for NASA.

Mission Update: The rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) will be delayed slightly, due to an issue with a propellant valve after achieving orbit.  The solar arrays have been deployed, though for a time only one of the three thruster pods was responsive.  At this point, according to the twitter feed of Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, a second thruster pod is up and running, and the craft has moved from free orbit to active control, and can now begin a burn to rendezvous with the ISS.

4:04pm – Thurster pods 1 through 4 all up and running, preparing to raise orbit to catch the ISS!

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