CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — For the second time, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has successfully launched and landed a Falcon 9 first stage rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The SpaceX rocket lifted off at 12:45 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Monday, July 18, 2016, from Space Launch Complex 40. Seven minutes after launch, the first stage booster began its descent back through Earth’s atmosphere, illuminating Florida’s Space Coast’s night sky in an orange glow.
As the first stage neared Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a double sonic boom echoed across the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean, cuing crowds lined up along the beach to erupt in cheers and applause. The booster then made a picture-perfect landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 18, 2016
SpaceX first landed a first stage booster at Landing Zone 1 in December 2015. SpaceX has previously successfully recovered first stage rockets from three missions at sea using the company’s Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ships. Landing Zone 1 is built on the former site of Space Launch Complex 13, a U.S. Air Force rocket and missile testing range.
Payload On Way To International Space Station
The Dragon capsule carrying 5,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station has successfully reached orbit and unfurled its solar arrays.
Among the CRS-9 mission cargo is an International Docking Adapter, or IDA, that will provide a vital link between the International Space Station and the new spacecraft in development with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Outfitted with a host of sensors and systems, the IDA is built so spacecraft systems can automatically perform all the steps of rendezvous and dock with the station without input from the astronauts. Manual backup systems will be in place on the spacecraft to allow the crew to take over steering duties, if needed.
This adapter will be one of two at the station. Another already being assembled at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will be carried into orbit during a future SpaceX cargo resupply mission and attached to another open port on the station, giving the station two docking areas for the new generation of human-rated spacecraft. Both of the IDAs are identical.
With the IDA loaded in the rear trunk of the Dragon, the interior of the Dragon capsule holds about 3,800 pounds of material including experiment supplies for dozens of the 250 research projects taking place on the station during Expeditions 48 and 49.
Photo and video credit: SpaceX