A 2,200-kilogram care package destined for the International Space Station (ISS) has successfully launched from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The CRS-13 payload launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 with both a flight-proven Dragon Capsule and first-stage booster.
“This was a fantastic way to end the year for SpaceX east coast launches,” said the director of Dragon Mission Management, Jessica Jensen. “It was a great launch.”
The almost entirely reused Falcon 9 lifted off from SLC-40 at 15:36 GMT (10:36 a.m. EST). Main engine cutoff occurred at approximately T+ 02:28 with first stage separation following soon after. At approximately T+ 07:45, the Falcon 9 first stage touched down gently at landing zone 1. Second stage engine cutoff followed just over a minute later at T+ 09:06 and at T+ 10:04, the Dragon Capsule was successfully deployed on its way to the ISS.
Today’s launch is the first to make use of both a flight-proven Dragon Capsule and first-stage booster. SpaceX has launched three previous missions that utilised flight-proven first-stage boosters including the EchoStar 105/SES-11 Payload in October. The booster used in today’s launch previously supported NASA’s CRS-11 mission in June 2017. The Dragon Capsule last supported the CRS-6 mission in April 2015. The launch takes the company one step closer to their goal of 100% reusability, a goal that could drastically reduce the cost of launching aboard the company’s Falcon 9 rocket.
The CRS-13 mission also marks the inaugural launch for SLC-40 after a dramatic explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in September 2016 damaged the pad. SpaceX has, over the last year spent more than $50 million rebuilding and improving the pad. Today’s launch is the culmination of the company’s efforts and the continuation of the pad’s historic legacy.
Image Credit: SpaceX