October 26, 2021

SpaceX Succeeds In Launching Falcon 9 Rocket

falcon 9 spacex dragon

SpaceX launched it's Falcon 9 commercially developed rocket Wednesday. Image courtesy of SpaceX.

Space Exploration Technologies, a commercial space company, sent its Falcon 9 commercial rocket off the launchpad for just the second time Wednesday. This time it was carrying a Dragon capsule destined for orbit around the Earth.

The launch was successful as was the separation and journey into orbit of the Dragon capsule. The Dragon was to spend about three hours orbiting the Earth twice as well as performing some automated maneuvers designed to simulate the approach to the International Space Station. Once completed, the Dragon is to fire off it’s deorbit rocket sending it back to the Earth.

The one unknown of the mission is the re-entry phase. The heat shields designed to protect the craft from the harsh temperatures of the Earth’s atmosphere during re-entry could not be fully tested prior to the launch. If all goes well, the Dragon will splash down in the Pacific Ocean Wednesday afternoon.

This is just the beginning of what could be a long and lucrative business for SpaceX. The company already has a contract with NASA worth $1.6 billion for carrying 12 loads of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station.

The success of the Falcon 9 rocket and companies like SpaceX are key to the survival of the International Space Station. Especially given the retirement of the space shuttle next year.