This morning SpaceX successfully launched their latest Falcon 9 witth Dragon towards the international space station. Following an aborted launch on Saturday that was traced back to a faulty value on engine 5 SpaceX successfully fixed, validated and prepared for launch this morning.
After the 9 minute ride to orbit which was performed flawlessly by Falcon 9 the Dragon spacecraft was successfully separated and deployed it’s Solar Array’s. This was the first of many new systems on Dragon which will be tested during this mission. During the press conference after launch NASA and SpaceX confirmed that Dragon has also performed it’s first burn procedure successfully as it starts it journey to catch up with the space station.
Over the next few days they have a lot more work to complete including the critical opening of the bay door that contains the probes and capture device used by the station’s robotic arm to grapple Dragon when it is close enough to the station. Once Dragon arrives at the station on Thursday it will perform a number of procedures under the COTS Demo 2 mission plan to confirm that it can operate successfully near the station without cause danger to the station or it’s crew. Upon successful completion of these objectives and with approval from NASA Dragon will then proceed to the COTS Demo 3 objectives which include berthing at the station.
The next few days are going to be very exciting for the Commercial Cargo program at NASA but incredible nerve racking as SpaceX execute all the tests needed for a successful mission.