After a 24-hour delay due to rain, NASA and SpaceX finally launched the Falcon 9/Dragon spacecraft at 1:52 am ET at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on its three-day journey to the International Space Station. Now, you can watch the 15-minute spectacle thanks to NASA.
"There's nothing like a good launch, it's just fantastic," SpaceX's Hans Koenigsman told NASA. "From what I can tell, everything went perfectly." Two minutes and 41 seconds into the flight, the Dragon's nine Merlin 1D engines, tasked with providing enough power during the first stage, shut off as planned allowing a single Merlin engine to carry the craft all the way to orbit. All this action happens around the 3:30 mark.
The close-up view of the Falcon 9 rocket launch makes it hard to actually envision its trajectory. Luckily photographers on the ground captured some amazing long-exposure images that show the Dragon spacecraft's arc-shaped liftoff.
When astronauts Alexander Gerst and Reid Wisemen eventually intercept the Dragon capsule and retrieve it with the station's robotic arm, they'll be greeted with a treasure trove of goodies—2.5 tons of it to be precise. Aside from food and provisions that make a third of the cargo on board, Dragon will also deliver the ISS-RapidScat, a device designed to take readings of winds speeds over Earth's oceans to help improve weather and hurricane forecasting.
The Dragon capsule's most unique piece of cargo is its space-friendly 3D printer, the very first of its kind. The cargo also carries elements needed to complete some 255 different scientific investigations, according to NASA, so the crew will have their hands full for the foreseeable future. [NASA]
Image by Frankie Martin/NASA