0045 GMT (7:45 p.m. EST on Tues.)
Splashdown confirmed! The Dragon spacecraft has returned to Earth with nearly 3,700 pounds of space station cargo, ending its fifth operational flight to the complex.
0039 GMT (7:39 p.m. EST on Tues.)
SpaceX confirms deployment of Dragon's drogue and main parachutes.
0036 GMT (7:36 p.m. EST on Tues.)
After deploying two drogue parachutes for stability, Dragon should now be descending through 10,000 feet under three 116-foot main parachutes, which are designed to slow the craft's speed to a gentle 11 mph at the time of splashdown.
There are no updates from SpaceX yet confirming a good parachute deployment.
0030 GMT (7:30 p.m. EST on Tues.)
Temperatures outside the Dragon spacecraft are expected to reach up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit during re-entry.
0029 GMT (7:29 p.m. EST on Tues.)
The spacecraft is approaching the splashdown zone on a southwest-to-northeast trajectory.
0028 GMT (7:28 p.m. EST on Tues.)
SpaceX confirms a good trunk separation before the Dragon spacecraft descended back into the atmosphere.
0024 GMT (7:24 p.m. EST on Tues.)
Dragon should now be encountering the upper reaches of the atmosphere - a point known as entry interface - over the Pacific Ocean. Officials expect a communications blackout in the next few minutes, followed by deployment of the capsule's parachutes beginning at 7:35 p.m. EST (0035 GMT).
0009 GMT (7:09 p.m. EST on Tues.)
The Dragon spacecraft has conducted its de-orbit burn, according to the International Space Station's official Twitter account.
0007 GMT (7:07 p.m. EST on Tues.)
As with its previous missions, SpaceX is not providing live coverage of the re-entry and splashdown of the Dragon supply ship. We'll post updates here as we get them.
At this time, the unpressurized trunk of the Dragon spacecraft should have separated from the ship's entry capsule. The trunk will burn up in the atmosphere.
0002 GMT (7:02 p.m. EST on Tues.)
The deorbit burn should now be complete. Jettison of the 12-foot-diameter trunk section with its solar arrays should be coming up in a few minutes, but we don't have confirmation of those events from SpaceX.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2015
2350 GMT (6:50 p.m. EST)
Flying high above the Indian Ocean, the Dragon spacecraft should now be firing firing its Draco thrusters for the deorbit burn, committing the capsule for return to Earth. The burn is expected to last approximately 10 minutes.
Dragon is carrying more than 1.8 tons of cargo from the space station in its pressurized cabin. The capsule is the only robotic cargo freighter able to retrieve equipment from the space station and return it to Earth for analysis or repairs.
2340 GMT (6:40 p.m. EST)
Ignition of the capsule's thrusters is set for 6:49:32 p.m. EST (2349:32 GMT) for an appoximately 10-minute deorbit burn. Splashdown 260 miles southwest of Long Beach, Calif., is scheduled for 7:44:09 p.m. EST (0044:09 GMT).
NASA Television coverage of the Dragon resupply flight has ended. No live video is expected of the Dragon's splashdown, but you can check back here for updates on the status of the mission as we receive information.
2325 GMT (6:25 p.m. EST)
A recovery team on a 150-foot boat is in position near the Dragon splashdown zone. The vessel carries a crane to pluck the floating capsule from the Pacific Ocean, along with two inflatable boats to support the capsule's retrieval and safing.
About a dozen SpaceX engineers and technicians are at the splashdown site, which lies about 265 miles west of Baja California southwest of San Diego.
The SpaceX crew includes a four-person dive team to help retrieve the capsule after splashdown.
2315 GMT (6:15 p.m. EST)
The Dragon spacecraft is approaching a de-orbit burn to slow the capsule down to re-enter the atmosphere.
The burn is set to begin at 6:49 p.m. EST (2349 GMT) using the spaceship's Draco thrusters.
1924 GMT (2:24 p.m. EST)
Dragon's third and final departure burn is complete, moving the craft beyond the 200-meter keep-out sphere, an imaginary bubble around the space station.
1915 GMT (2:15 p.m. EST)
The Dragon spacecraft has finished its second departure burn. A yaw maneuver is coming up at 2:20 p.m. EST (1920 GMT), then a final departure maneuver is planned about a minute later.
1914 GMT (2:14 p.m. EST)
The first departure burn is complete.
1912 GMT (2:12 p.m. EST)
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has backed the robotic arm away to a distance of a few feet. The first of three rocket burns to guide Dragon away from the space station is coming up soon.
1910 GMT (2:10 p.m. EST)
Dragon is now flying on its own, having been released from the grasp of the space station robotic arm at 2:10 p.m. EST (1910 GMT) as the craft flew off 257 miles over Australia to the north-northwest of Adelaide.
1905 GMT (2:05 p.m. EST)
Five minutes until release of Dragon. Spacecraft communicator Randy Bresnik has radioed the space station astronauts they are "go" for release of the Dragon capsule at 1910 GMT (2:10 p.m. EST).
ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be at the controls of the robot arm at the time of release.
1857 GMT (1:57 p.m. EST)
No problems are reported that could prevent an on-time departure of Dragon from the space station. The final go from mission control in Houston should come in a few minutes.
1850 GMT (1:50 p.m. EST)
Grasped by the robotic arm, the Dragon spacecraft is near its planned release point below the space station.
1815 GMT (1:15 p.m. EST)
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft has been unberthed from the International Space Station's Harmony module. Poised on the end of the lab's Canadian-built robotic arm, the supply ship will be released at 2:10 p.m. EST (1910 GMT).
Astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts will send the command to release the SpaceX supply ship. The duo will use a communications panel to issue commands to Dragon if necessary.
The crew will monitor the spacecraft until it exits the so-called keep-out sphere 200 meters around the space station.
The capsule is returning to Earth with nearly 3,700 pounds of cargo.
NASA says the cargo includes specimens and equipment from investigations in human physiology research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science experiments and education activities sponsored by NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.
Other items packed inside the Dragon’s pressurized module will be repaired or refurbished for launch again, including a spacesuit with a problem with its fan motor that will be returned for analysis by engineers.
The Dragon spacecraft is the only one of the space station’s servicing vehicles capable of returning large amounts of cargo to Earth. Russia’s Soyuz ferry craft can bring home limited equipment with space station crews, and other resupply ships burn up in Earth’s atmosphere to dispose of trash that would otherwise congest the lab’s interior.
Once set free by the space station robotic arm, the Dragon will fire its thrusters to fly away from the vicinity of the complex before targeting splashdown in the Pacific Ocean about five-and-a-half hours later.
MONDAY, JANUARY 12, 2015
1354 GMT (8:54 a.m. EST)
All 16 bolts in the common berthing mechanism have driven to create a firm connection between Dragon and the Harmony module. The commercial spacecraft is now part of the International Space Station.
1103 GMT (6:03 a.m. EST)
Today's arrival marks the sixth time a Dragon spacecraft has reached the space station, the 74th unmanned cargo ship to arrive at the complex, and the 155th overall mission to reach the outpost.
1059 GMT (5:59 a.m. EST)
The next step this morning will be to move Dragon to an Earth-facing berthing port on the space station's Harmony module in the next few hours.
1058 GMT (5:58 a.m. EST)
"Congratulations and nice job," astronaut Butch Wilmore just radioed from the space station. "It's been a couple of days getting here, and it's nice to have it on-board, and we'll be digging in soon."
1054 GMT (5:54 a.m. EST)
Capture confirmed. Space station commander Butch Wilmore has grappled Dragon with the robotic arm at 5:54 a.m. EST (1054 GMT) as the space station flew 262 miles above the Mediterranean Sea just southeast of Barcelona.
1052 GMT (5:52 a.m. EST)
Wilmore is now moving the robot arm toward Dragon.
1050 GMT (5:50 a.m. EST)
Mission control says the space station robot arm is configured and in good shape for capture of Dragon, and the crew is authorized to proceed with grapple.
1047 GMT (5:47 a.m. EST)
Mission control is verifying the readiness of the space station's robotic arm before grapple of Dragon.
1040 GMT (5:40 a.m. EST)
Mission control just radioed the crew they are "go" to capture Dragon.
While Wilmore is at the controls of the Canadian-built robotic arm, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is overseeing the Dragon spacecraft's position and status from the space station's windowed cupola module. Wiseman has a command panel to order Dragon to retreat or abort if a problem develops.
1036 GMT (5:36 a.m. EST)
The space station crew reports they are ready for capture at the opening of the window at 5:39 a.m. EST (1039 GMT). Mission control in Houston expects to give the astronauts a "go" for capture in a few minutes, leading to grapple of the Dragon spaceship shortly after daytime capture window opens.
1031 GMT (5:31 a.m. EST)
Dragon has arrived at the capture point 10 meters, or 32 feet, beneath the space station and within the reach of the 58-foot robotic arm, which will be operated by space station commander Butch Wilmore.
1026 GMT (5:26 a.m. EST)
Less than 50 feet separate the Dragon spacecraft and the International Space Station as the two vehicles fly in orbital darkness over the Pacific Ocean west of Mexico.
1022 GMT (5:22 a.m. EST)
Dragon is now 20 meters, or 65 feet, from the space station.
1014 GMT (5:14 a.m. EST)
With the space station crew, Houston and Hawthorne all ready for final approach, Dragon has resumed its glacial flight toward the complex to the so-called capture box, which is about 10 meters, or 32 feet, beneath the outpost.
With the rendezvous going ahead of schedule, Dragon could be captured as early as 5:39 a.m. EST (1039 GMT).
0958 GMT (4:58 a.m. EST)
Dragon has arrived at a hold point 30 meters, or 98 feet, from the space station. There will be polls of teams in Houston and Hawthorne in the next few minutes before departing this hold point.
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti says the Dragon appears to be in the correct position
for this point in the rendezvous. The crew has a control panel linked with Dragon via UHF radio to issue simple commands in case of any problem. For example, the astronauts could tell the spacecraft to hold, abort or retreat.
Cristoforetti and astronaut Butch Wilmore, who will operate the station's robot arm to grapple Dragon, are inside the space station's cupola module for this morning's arrival.
Capture could occur up to 20 minutes ahead of schedule this morning, NASA says.
0935 GMT (4:35 a.m. EST)
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is running a few minutes ahead of schedule on its final rendezvous with the International Space Station, NASA says.
The cargo craft is now approaching the space station from underneath at a distance of less than 250 meters, or 820 feet. It's heading for a hold point 30 meters, or 98 feet, from the station.
0620 GMT (1:20 a.m. EST)
A Dragon cargo craft is closing in on the International Space Station after a two-day pursuit following Saturday's launch from Cape Canaveral, poised to deliver more than 2.5 tons of supplies to the complex after an automated laser-guided final approach.
The rendezvous will culminate with grapple by the outpost's robotic arm around 6:12 a.m. EST (1112 GMT).
The SpaceX-owned spaceship is carrying more than 5,100 pounds of cargo to reinforce the space station's stocks of research experiments, crew provisions and spare parts.
The Dragon capsule has fired its Draco thrusters multiple times since it launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday at 4:47 a.m. EST (0947 GMT), raising its altitude to match the orbit of the space station and set up for today's final rendezvous sequence.
The Dragon spacecraft is currently about 28 kilometers, or 17 miles, below and behind the space station. At that distance, the Dragon should be within range of a UHF communications panel the space station's crew can use to issue simple commands to the supply ship in the event of a problem.
Several height-adjustment and midcourse correction rocket burns will fine-tune Dragon's rendezvous, guiding the ship into position 350 meters, or about 1,150 feet, directly beneath the space station at 4:07 a.m. EST (0907 GMT).
The Dragon initially relies on relative GPS navigation data to guide its approach to the space station. Once directly beneath the complex, its computers will switch to laser and thermal sensors.
Dragon carries a laser guidance sensor package and and a pair of thermal cameras to aid its final rendezvous with the space station.
Before leaving the initial hold point 1,150 feet beneath the space station, the cargo craft conducted a 180-degree yaw maneuver to align its grapple fixture with the position of the space station's robot arm.
Soon after beginning its final approach sequence, the Dragon spacecraft will halt again at a hold position 250 meters, or 820 feet, below the space station. This brief hold will allow ground controllers to assess the status of the rendezvous and issue a "go" for the Dragon to enter the so-called keep-out sphere, an imaginary circle around the space station in which traffic is tightly controlled for safety reasons.
The Dragon spacecraft will depart the 250-meter hold point around 4:31 a.m. EST (0931 GMT), heading for a 30-meter hold position before pressing on to a final point about 10 meters, or 33 feet, beneath the space station.
Arrival at the final hold point is scheduled around 5:54 a.m. EST (1054 GMT).
Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Samantha Cristoforetti will monitor the final phase of the Dragon's approach, including manning the space station's robotic arm to grapple the free-flying cargo craft. Wilmore will grapple Dragon with the robot arm around 6:12 a.m. EST (1112 GMT).
Once the Dragon is firmly snared by the robotic arm, the 58-foot Canadarm will move the capsule into position for berthing with the Earth-facing port on the space station's Harmony module around 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT).
SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014
The early hours of the Dragon cargo craft's flight to the International Space Station are going as planned, according to SpaceX.
The guidance, navigation, and control systems door has been opened, SpaceX says. The instruments inside the navigation bay can now be activated and tested.
The spaceship's rendezvous with the space station began with this morning's launch, but major maneuvers to guide Dragon closer to the orbiting research complex will begin early Sunday. A series of burns using the craft's Draco thrusters will re-shape Dragon's orbit to match that of the space station.
Early Monday, the space station and Dragon will be close enough to establish radio communications before the robotic space freighter begins its final approach from below the laboratory.
Capture with the space station's robotic arm is expected around 6:12 a.m. EST (1112 GMT) Monday. Space station commander Butch Wilmore will be at the controls of the robot arm for Dragon's arrival.
1019 GMT (5:19 a.m. EST)
NASA says the Dragon spacecraft is in a good orbit after today's launch.
1017 GMT (5:17 a.m. EST)
From Elon Musk's Twitter account: Didn't get good landing/impact video. Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and ... actual pieces."
1011 GMT (5:11 a.m. EST)
From Elon Musk's Twitter account: "Ship itself is fine. Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced..."
1006 GMT (5:06 a.m. EST)
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has tweeted an update: "Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho."
1002 GMT (5:02 a.m. EST)
The Dragon spacecraft will reach the International Space Station on Monday, with grapple scheduled for approximately 6:12 a.m. EST (1112 GMT).
"We have a 100 percent successful mission underway," says NASA TV commentator George Diller.
1000 GMT (5:00 a.m. EST)
Video beamed back from the Dragon spacecraft show both solar array wings have unfurled. They span 54 feet tip-to-tip.
0959 GMT (4:59 a.m. EST)
Dragon is deploying its two solar array wings now.
0957 GMT (4:57 a.m. EST)
The Dragon spacecraft has separated from the Falcon 9 rocket. Solar array deployment should begin within 2 minutes.
0956 GMT (4:56 a.m. EST)
Second stage shutdown! Falcon 9 has achieved orbit.
0955 GMT (4:55 a.m. EST)
T+plus 8 minutes, 30 seconds. About one minute until the second stage Merlin 1D engine is supposed to shut down as the vehicle reaches orbit. The launcher is aiming for an orbit with a low point of 199.2 kilometers (123.8 miles), a high point of 365.5 kilometers (227.1 miles), and an inclination of 51.6 degrees.
The Falcon 9's first stage should now be on final descent to the autonomous spaceport drone ship. The last report is the stage had passed below the horizon as viewed from coastal tracking facilities.
0954 GMT (4:54 a.m. EST)
T+plus 7 minutes, 40 seconds. The vehicle remains in a nominal trajectory. The terminal guidance phase of the launch will start soon.
0954 GMT (4:54 a.m. EST)
T+plus 7 minutes. The kerosene-fueled Merlin 1D upper stage engine generates about 161,000 pounds of thrust in vacuum.
0953 GMT (4:53 a.m. EST)
T+plus 6 minutes, 40 seconds. The vehicle is now in communications range of a ground station in New Hampshire.
0952 GMT (4:52 a.m. EST)
T+plus 5 minutes, 30 seconds. Stage 2 propulsion is nominal as the first stage has completed its boost-back burn heading for landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
0952 GMT (4:52 a.m. EST)
T+plus 5 minutes. Everything reported to be going well with this second stage engine firing. The Merlin vacuum engine uses an ultra-thin niobium nozzle extension for greater efficiency in the upper atmosphere.
Altitude is 166 km, downrange distance is 225 km.
0951 GMT (4:51 a.m. EST)
T+plus 4 minutes. The nose cone covering the Dragon spacecraft's berthing port should be be jettisoned now.
0950 GMT (4:50 a.m. EST)
T+plus 3 minutes. The Falcon 9 first stage engines have cut off, the stages have separated, and the rocket's second stage Merlin vacuum engine has ignited for its nearly seven-minute firing to reach orbital velocity.
The first stage is now beginning its turnaround and boost back to the autonomous spaceport drone ship for a soft landing attempt.
0949 GMT (4:49 a.m. EST)
T+plus 2 minutes. Now soaring at an altitude of more than 20 miles, the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage will shut down and jettison in about one minute. Engines no. 1 and 9 will shut down about 10 seconds before the remaining seven Merlin 1D first stage engines.
And chilldown of the second stage's vacuum-rated Merlin 1D engine has started in preparation for its ignition.
0948 GMT (4:48 a.m. EST)
T+plus 1 minute. The Falcon 9 rocket is approaching the speed of sound and the phase of maximum aerodynamic pressure.
0947 GMT (4:47 a.m. EST)
T+plus 20 seconds. The Falcon 9 rocket's pitch program has initiated to put the 208-foot-tall rocket on an northeasterly trajectory from Cape Canaveral.
0947 GMT (4:47 a.m. EST)
LIFTOFF of the Falcon 9 on a mission to resupply the International Space Station and demonstrate techniques for rocket reusability.
0946 GMT (4:46 a.m. EST)
T-minus 60 seconds. In the final minute of the countdown, the flight computer will command checks of the first stage Merlin engine steering system and the Falcon 9 propellant tanks will be pressurized for flight. Thousands of gallons of water from the 53 water nozzles on ground facility's Niagara system will also be dumped onto the launch pad deck to suppress the sound and acoustics of liftoff.
The command to start the ignition sequence for the first stage will be issued at T-minus 3 seconds, triggering the Merlin engines' ignitor moments before the powerplants actually ramp up to full power.
0945 GMT (4:45 a.m. EST)
T-minus 90 seconds and counting. The SpaceX launch director and the Air Force Eastern Range have given their final approvals for liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket at 4:47 a.m. EST (0947 GMT).
0945 GMT (4:45 a.m. EST)
T-minus 2 minutes and counting. The rocket's Merlin 1D engines have been chilled down for ignition.
0944 GMT (4:44 a.m. EST)
T-minus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The strongback has been locked in to launch position.
0944 GMT (4:44 a.m. EST)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The rocket's destruct system is on internal power and being armed, and liquid oxygen topping is being terminated.
The strongback has retracted into the launch position more than 20 degrees from the rocket.
The second stage thrust vector steering system has checked out and is ready for flight.
0942 GMT (4:42 a.m. EST)
T-minus 5 minutes and counting. The cradles connecting the strongback to the Falcon 9 rocket have opened.
0941 GMT (4:41 a.m. EST)
T-minus 6 minutes and counting. The Falcon 9 rocket is now operating on internal power.
The strongback umbilical tower will soon be lowered a few degrees to clear the rocket for launch. The procedure begins with opening of cradles gripping the rocket at attach points, then hydraulics lower the tower into launch position.
0940 GMT (4:40 a.m. EST)
T-minus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The Falcon 9's heaters are being deactivated, and the rocket will be transitioned to internal power in a few seconds.
0940 GMT (4:40 a.m. EST)
T-minus 7 minutes and counting. Within the next minute, the Falcon 9's flight computer will be commanded to its alignment state. The Merlin engine pumps are continuing to chill down.
0939 GMT (4:39 a.m. EST)
T-minus 8 minutes and counting. Good chilldown continues on the first stage engines, and closeouts of the upper stage's gaseous nitrogen attitude control system are underway.
0937 GMT (4:37 a.m. EST)
T-minus 9 minutes, 30 seconds. Prevalves leading to the Falcon 9's Merlin 1D first stage engines are opening, permitting super-cold liquid oxygen to flow into the engines to condition the turbopumps for ignition.
0937 GMT (4:37 a.m. EST)
T-minus 10 minutes and counting. The terminal countdown autosequence has started. Any hold after this point will result in an automatic abort and recycle to T-minus 13 minutes.
0935 GMT (4:35 a.m. EST)
T-minus 12 minutes. The launch team has verified all consoles are go for liftoff at 4:47:10 a.m. EST (0947:10 GMT).
The terminal countdown autosequence is about to begin at the T-minus 10 minute mark.
0932 GMT (4:32 a.m. EST)
T-minus 15 minutes and counting. Here are some statistics on today's launch:
- 14th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
- 19th launch of Falcon rocket family since 2006
- 13th Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral
- 9th launch of a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket
- 8th Falcon 9 v1.1 launch from Cape Canaveral
- 3rd launch of a Dragon on a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket
- 6th SpaceX mission to the space station
- 7th Falcon 9 night launch
- 1st Falcon 9 launch of 2015
- 7th flight of a Dragon spacecraft
- 1st launch from Cape Canaveral in 2015
0930 GMT (4:30 a.m. EST)
T-minus 17 minutes and counting. The Falcon 9 rocket stands 208 feet tall and measures 12 feet in diameter. At liftoff, its nine Merlin 1D first stage engines will generate about 1.3 million pounds of thrust.
Fully fueled for launch, the Falcon 9 contains about 1.05 million pounds of kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.
0927 GMT (4:27 a.m. EST)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The final poll of SpaceX's 14-person launch team will begin at T-minus 13 minutes before the countdown enters the final phase.
The launch vehicle is reported ready to proceed with the terminal countdown.
0926 GMT (4:26 a.m. EST)
The issue is with communications links between the Air Force Eastern Range and the Falcon 9 launcher. The range is responsible for sending the destruct signal to the rocket in case of a problem.
NASA TV commentator George Diller says the problem could be resolved by switching antennas on the ground.
0925 GMT (4:25 a.m. EST)
See our Facebook
page for images of today's countdown and launch!
0924 GMT (4:24 a.m. EST)
The SpaceX launch team is working an issue with the Falcon 9 rocket's flight termination system.
0922 GMT (4:22 a.m. EST)
Liquid oxygen topping continues on the Falcon 9 rocket's first and second stages.
0920 GMT (4:20 a.m. EST)
The cargo-carrying Dragon capsule is being transitioned to internal power at this time.
0917 GMT (4:17 a.m. EST)
T-minus 30 minutes. At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying about 260 miles over the Indian Ocean west of Austrlia.
Linkup with the complex is scheduled at 6:12 a.m. EST (1112 GMT) Monday, when astronaut Butch Wilmore will grapple the Dragon spacecraft with the space station's robotic arm.