SpaceX CRS-5 Mission: Post-Launch Summary


At 4:47am EST (around 9:47am GMT) on Saturday 10th January, private spacecraft company SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 vehicle carrying a Dragon supply capsule, as part of their CRS-5 Mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This is the fifth SpaceX mission to the ISS as part of their Cargo Resupply Services contract with NASA, following the withdrawal of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

While the launch was otherwise fairly routine, the Falcon 9 launched for CRS-5 had the ability to land (or at least, attempt to land) the first stage of the rocket on an autonomous drone barge. Typically, used stages (once released from the rocket) would splashdown in the ocean, causing damage to them and often leading to a considerable expenditure in terms of both time and money.

And so while the launch may now be over, join us at the Wessex Scene Science & Environment Team as we review the launch from Cape Canaveral.


1:26am GMT – Falcon 9 and Dragon are moved to a vertical position on the launchpad


8:49am GMT (T-60 MINUTES) – SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweets from the Hawthorne Launch Control Centre that CRS-5 is good to go


9:18am GMT (T-30 MINUTES) – SpaceX release another photo of the Falcon 9 and Dragon on the launch pad, as the final stages of preparation begin


9:22am GMT (T-26 MINUTES) – NASA confirm the payload of the Dragon capsule, predominantly consisting of essential supplies for the ISS. 


9:47am GMT (T-0 MINUTES) – SpaceX confirm successful liftoff of CRS-5 from Cape Canaveral. 


9:50am GMT (T+3 MINUTES) – Stage 1 of the Falcon 9 separates from Stage 2. While Stage 2 continues to place the Dragon capsule into orbit, Stage 1 begins to descent back to the barge. The image taken in December shows the target. autonomous_spaceport_drone_ship


9:57am GMT (T+10 MINUTES) – SpaceX confirm separation of the Dragon capsule from Stage 2. Communication has been lost with Stage 1 by this point, so SpaceX awaits telemetry data. Reddit user /u/0x05 takes this photo of Stage 1 performing one of three deceleration burns. 


10:00am GMT (T+13 MINUTES) – Elon Musk confirms deployment of Dragon capsule into ISS catchup orbit. Still no update on Stage 1 of the Falcon 9. 


10:05am GMT (T+18 MINUTES) – Telemetry from Stage 1 of the Falcon 9 arrives at Launch Control. While the new equipment worked, the rocket hit the barge too hard, causing some damage. 


10:17am GMT (T+30 MINUTES) – NASA Kennedy release video footage of the CRS-5 launch. 


11:23am GMT – NASA confirm that the Dragon capsule is proceeding as planned. The post-launch news conference is cancelled as a result of this success. 


5:17pm GMT – Elon Musk takes to Twitter again, and explains the reason for the failure of the Falcon 9 landing. The Falcon 9’s supply of hydraulic fluid ran out shortly before landing, leading to the final impact. The next flight should rectify this, however. 


Once it has caught up with the ISS, the Dragon capsule will spend around 4 weeks with the station, allowing for 2,300kg of supplies to be taken to space and 1,600kg to be returned to Earth.

Lead Image by SpaceX

Falcon 9 graphic made by Reddit user /u/surrender52


History student, Union rep and tech advocate. I sometimes design pretty things as well. I'm @thatsamdedman on Twitter!

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