SpaceX has successfully completed the first re-flight of a Dragon capsule as part of the CRS-11 International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission.
Saturday’s flight which marks the 100th launch from Kennedy Space Center’s historic LC-39A launch pad was originally scheduled for June 1, but was delayed due to lightning in the area and rescheduled for Saturday, June 3 at 5:07 p.m. EDT.
CRS-11 is the thirteenth flight of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and the eleventh in support of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program, which sees Dragon transport cargo to and from the ISS. CRS-11 will carry over 40 science experiments up to the ISS including a experiment called ROSA that will put a new type of solar panel technology to the test. ROSA stands for Roll Out Solar Array. Traditional satellites are equipped with approximately 150 feet of solar panels that need to fold up into very tight packages in order to fit into the launch vehicle. ROSA panels roll up like a mat for transport and then unroll when it’s time to deploy.
After the successful liftoff of the rocket at 5:07 pm Eastern Time, Falcon 9 transported its payload up to 65 kilometers above the earth, before separating from the second stage rocket and began its journey back to earth.
Dragon is on its way to the International Space Station. Capture by @Space_Station crew set for Monday.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 3, 2017
As the first stage Falcon 9 booster headed back to earth, the second stage rocket with SpaceX’s “used” Dragon Capsule continued towards the International Space Station, where it’s expected to dock on Monday.
7 minutes and 40 seconds after launch, Falcon 9 landed back at LZ-1, passing what looked like a bird along the way back to a precise landing. Chief Elon Musk took to twitter saying, “It’s starting to feel kinda normal to reuse rockets. Good. That’s how it is for cars & airplanes and how it should be for rockets.”
Indeed, Elon. Indeed.