SpaceX completed it’s fourth launch of 2015 with the liftoff of the CRS-6 Dragon capsule towards the International Space Station. SpaceX confirmed that after separation from the second stage the Dragon spacecraft successfully deployed it’s Solar Array’s and is now heading towards the International Space Station. It is scheduled to arrive at approximately 7:00 a.m. EDT on April 17.
Originally planned for 10th April the launch was delayed to allow SpaceX time to ensure the Helium tanks on their flight vehicles were okay after an issue was found back in the factory. An attempt to liftoff yesterday was scrubbed just before liftoff due to lightning near the launch pad.
The Dragon spacecraft is carrying 4387 pounds of equipment to the station including Planetary Resources Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) spacecraft, the original was destroyed when the Orbital CRS launch failed. For more details on what Dragon is carrying check out NASA fact sheet here.
SpaceX again attempted to land the Falcon 9 first stage on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), update from Elon Musk shows they again made it to the ship but didn’t land successfully.
Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015
Another update from Elon shows that the first stage did actually land on the barge but then tipped over, images included. They will have video when the drone ship gets back to port.
Another update has been provided by SpaceX, captured by the chase plane just before landing looks like the first stage leaned over significantly before landing.
Falcon 9 first stage landing burn and touchdown on Just Read the Instructions https://t.co/4Te0BfT2Qn
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 15, 2015
In related SpaceX news, last week they rolled out a modified version of the Falcon 9 at Vandenberg which will be used for the In-flight abort test for Dragon 2 later this year. As the rocket’s payload will not be going into orbit for this test it only has three Merlin 1D engines instead of the typical nine. The actual test is scheduled for no earlier then (NET) July this year but could be subject to change depending on other missions.
Below are images from the launch today