Thursday, December 23, 2010

Launch Notification: Dragon Launch Satellites

Courtesy of AGI's Launch Notification e-mails. AGI's E-mails are sent after every launch and include key spacecraft information such as: the date, time, launch site, launcher, international number, name, and owner. Get more information on thousands of satellites and other vehicles by viewing STK models, animations, and our encyclopedic "Spacecraft Digest" database at

New Launch: 2010 December 8, 1543 UTC
Site: Air Force Eastern Test Range, Florida, USA
Launcher: Falcon 9
International Designator(s): 2010-066A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J

SSC Name Owner
37244 DRAGON C1 US
37245 QBX2 US
37247 PERSEUS 003 US
37248 PERSEUS 001 US
37249 QBX1 US
37250 PERSEUS 002 US
37251 PERSEUS 000 US

"A private rocket company launched an unmanned spacecraft and returned it safely to earth on Wednesday in a test flight to demonstrate future ferry flights to the International Space Station.

"Space Exploration Technologies or Space X is a private company founded by PayPal founder Elon Musk. The company has developed their Falcon 9 rocket in support of lofting an unmanned cargo craft to the space station in 2011, and attempt human space flights over the next decade."

"The 180-foot [55-m] tall Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida with an active Dragon C1 craft at 10:43 am EST, following a brief delay due to a technical issue.

"The white candle stick darted straight up and then out over the central Atlantic Ocean on a chilly, beautiful morning along the Space Coast.

"The Falcon 9 later delivered the Dragon module into an orbital inclination of 34.53 degrees, and an altitude of about 140 miles [225 km].

"The active cargo craft performed two orbits of earth testing on board systems and performing several firings of its eighteen cone-shaped thrusters.

"The Dragon, loaded with patches, ID badges and not much else from the company's hundreds of employees, completed two orbits of the earth before being maneuvered for it's return to earth.

"The craft made an on target splashdown at 2:04 pm about 500 miles [800 km] east of the Mexican coastline, SpaceX announced."

"The ten-foot [3-m] high capsule worked solely on lithium ion batteries on this brief flight. Future flights lasting several weeks will use dual solar arrays to generate power.

"SpaceX is working toward launching a fully loaded supply craft to the space station as early as next November as NASA prepares to retire the space shuttle program. The Falcon 9 is rated to carry as much as 23,050 pounds [10,455 kg] to the space station.

Musk said on Wednesday he feels confident that his company can launch an empty craft to the station, fly it around and return it back home. The first docking flight with the complex is scheduled for around November."

[Note: This report was updated to reflect the identification of eight previously unreported objects associated with this launch: QBX1 & 2, SMDC ONE, PERSEUS 000-003, and MAYFLOWER.]

Source: Atlanta NASA Examiner, "Private spacecraft launches, successfully returns to earth"