Enter the Dragon: First Look Inside SpaceX’s New Crew Transporter to Orbit – Photos

Would you ‘Enter the Dragon’?
First look inside SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft unveiled by CEO Elon Musk on May 29, 2014. Credit: Robert Fisher/AmericaSpace[/caption]

Would you like to ‘Enter the Dragon’ for an up close look inside SpaceX’s new ‘V2’ crew transport ship to Earth orbit and the space station?

We’ve shown you lots of exterior shots of SpaceX’s next generation manned Dragon V2 spacecraft after Billionaire entrepreneur and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk pulled the curtain off to reveal his future plans for human spaceflight on May 29 during a live webcast from SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, Calif.

And we’ve shown you the cool animation to see exactly ‘How it Works!’ from launch to landing.

Now we’ve compiled a stunning collection of imagery revealing what it’s like to actually stand within the gleaming walls of the futuristic Dragon spaceship from an astronauts perspective.

Check out the gallery of Dragon V2 imagery above and below.

Elon Musk seated inside Dragon V2 explaining consoles at unveiling on May 29, 2014. Credit: SpaceX
Elon Musk seated inside Dragon V2 explaining consoles at unveiling on May 29, 2014. Credit: SpaceX

Experience this exciting new chapter of American ‘Commercial Human Spaceflight’ coming to fruition.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is a public private partnership between NASA and a trio of amazing American aerospace companies – SpaceX, Boeing amd Sierra Nevada – to create inexpensive but reliable new astronaut spaceships to the High Frontier.

And NASA’s unprecedented commercial crew program is so far ahead of any international competitors that I think they’ll soon be knocking at the door and regret not investing in a similar insightful manner.

The goal is to get American’s back in space on American rockets from American soil – rather than being totally dependent on Russian rocket technology and Soyuz capsules for astronaut rides to the International Space Station (ISS) and back.

Potential crew members check out the seats of the new SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft. Credit:  Robert Fisher/America Space
Potential crew members check out the seats of the new SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft. Credit: Robert Fisher/America Space

“We need to have our own capability to get our crews to space. Commercial crew is really, really, really important,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told me in an exclusive interview – here.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk pulls open the hatch to ;Enter the Dragon’.    Credit:  Robert Fisher/America Space
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk pulls open the hatch to ‘Enter the Dragon’. Credit: Robert Fisher/America Space

Boeing and Sierra Nevada are competing with SpaceX to build the next generation spaceship to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS by 2017 using seed money from NASA’s CCP.

The Boeing CST-100 and Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser ‘space taxis’ are also vying for funding in the next round of contracts to be awarded by NASA around late summer 2014.

A look through the open hatch of the Dragon V2 reveals the layout and interior of the seven-crew capacity spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
A look through the open hatch of the Dragon V2 reveals the layout and interior of the seven-crew capacity spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, Orbital Sciences, commercial space, Orion, Mars rover, MAVEN, MOM and more planetary and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The Dragon V2 spacecraft's seating arrangement with the control panel swung up to allow crewmembers to get into their seats. Once the crew is in place, the control panel swings down and locks in launch position. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
The Dragon V2 spacecraft’s seating arrangement with the control panel swung up to allow crewmembers to get into their seats. Once the crew is in place, the control panel swings down and locks in launch position. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

A look through the open hatch of the Dragon V2 reveals the layout and interior of the seven-crew capacity spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
A look through the open hatch of the Dragon V2 reveals the layout and interior of the seven-crew capacity spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft on May 29, 2014.  Credit:  Robert Fisher/America Space
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils SpaceX Dragon V2 next generation astronaut spacecraft on May 29, 2014. Credit: Robert Fisher/America Space

Up Close Launch Pad Cameras capture Spectacular Sound and Fury of Antares/Cygnus Jan. 9 Blast off to Space Station – Video Gallery


Video caption: Antares ORB-1 Launch Pad Camera on south side of pad 0A being hammered from Orbital Sciences Antares rocket launch at 1:07 p.m. EST on January 9th 2014, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA, carrying the Cygnus resupply spacecraft to the ISS. Credit: Mike Killian/Jeff Seibert/Mike Barrett/AmericaSpace.com/MikeKillianPhotography.com/Wired4Space.com

What’s it like to be standing at a rocket launch pad? Especially when it’s a private spaceship embarking on a history making flight to the space station that’s blasting the opening salvos of the new ‘commercial space era’ heard round the world?

Thrilling beyond belief!

And what’s it like to be standing at the launch pad when the engines ignite and the bird begins soaring by guzzling hundreds of thousands of pounds of burning fuel, generating intense heat and deadly earsplitting noise?

Well for a first-hand, up-close adventure to hear the deafening sound and feel the overwhelming fury, I’ve collected a gallery of videos from the Jan. 9 blastoff of the privately built Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, VA on a historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

The videos were created by a team of space journalists from a variety of space websites working together to create the best possible products for everyone’s enjoyment- including Alan Walters, Mike Killian, Matt Travis, Jeff Seibert, Mike Barrett and Ken Kremer representing AmericaSpace, Zero-G News, Wired4Space and Universe Today.


Video caption: Close up camera captures Antares liftoff carrying the Cygnus Orb-1 ISS resupply spacecraft. This was composed of 59 images taken by a Canon Rebel xti and 18 mm lens of the Antares Orbital 1 launch to the ISS on Jan. 9, 2013 at NASA Wallops Island, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer/Alan Walters/Matthew Travis/kenkremer.com

Wallops is located along the eastern shore of Virginia at America’s newest space port.

Because the launch pad is near the most heavily populated ares of the US, millions have a chance to view the launch along the US eastern seaboard.

And the pad sits almost directly on the Atlantic Ocean, so you can hear the waves constantly crashing on shore.

Well we always want to be as close as possible. But as you’ll see, it’s really not a very good idea to be right there.


North Side Launch Pad Camera Captures Antares Rocket Launch With Orbital Sciences Cygnus Orb-1 To ISS on Jan. 9, 2013 from NASA Wallops. A GoPro Hero 2 camera captures the launch of Orbital Sciences Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus spacecraft on the Orb-1 mission to resupply the International Space Station. Credit: Matt Travis/Mike Killian/MikeKillianPhotography.com/ZeroGnews.com/AmericaSpace.com

Virtually every camera on the south side got creamed and was blown over by the approaching fiery exhaust fury seen in the videos.

Amazingly they continued taking pictures of the exhaust as they were violently hit and flung backwards.

Luckily, as they were knocked over and fell to the ground, the lenses were still facing skyward and snapping away showing the sky and exhaust plume swirling around and eventually dissipating.

Our cameras capture the experience realistically.

We’ve set them up around the north and side sides at NASA’s Wallops Launch Pad 0A on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS).

Antares soars to space on Jan. 9, 2014 from NASA Wallops on Virginia coast on the Orb-1 mission to the ISS.  Photo taken by remote camera at launch pad. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com
Antares soars to space on Jan. 9, 2014 from NASA Wallops on Virginia coast on the Orb-1 mission to the ISS. Photo taken by remote camera at launch pad. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

How do the cameras, called remotes, collect the imagery?

They are activated either by sound triggers or timers.

It takes a lot of hard work and equipment and doesn’t always work out as planned.

But the payoff when it does is absolutely extraordinary.

The Jan. 9 blast off of Orbital Sciences’ private Antares booster delivered the firm’s Cygnus Orbital-1 cargo freighter to orbit.

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo spacecraft, with the moon seen in the background, is moved into installation position by astronauts using a robotic arm aboard the International Space Station Jan. 12. Credit: NASA
Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo spacecraft, with the moon seen in the background, is moved into installation position by astronauts using a robotic arm aboard the International Space Station Jan. 12. Credit: NASA

Following a two day orbital chase and an intricate series of orbit raising maneuvers, the Cygnus vessel reached the station on Sunday, Jan. 12, and was berthed by astronauts maneuvering the robot arm at an Earth-facing port on the massive orbiting lab complex.

The Orbital -1 spaceship is conducting the first of 8 operational cargo logistics flights scheduled under Orbital Sciences’ multi-year $1.9 Billion Commercial Resupply Services contract (CRS) with NASA that runs through 2016.

SpaceX likewise has a contract with NASA to deliver cargo to the ISS via their Dragon spaceship. The next SpaceX launch is slated for Feb. 22.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, commercial space, Chang’e-3, LADEE, Mars and more news.

Ken Kremer

This Cygnus launched atop Antares on Jan. 9 and docked on Jan. 12   Cygnus pressurized cargo module – side view – during exclusive visit by  Ken Kremer/Universe Today to observe prelaunch processing by Orbital Sciences at NASA Wallops, VA. ISS astronauts will open this hatch to unload 2780 pounds of cargo.  Docking mechanism hooks and latches to ISS at left. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
This Cygnus launched atop Antares on Jan. 9 and docked on Jan. 12 Cygnus pressurized cargo module – side view – during exclusive visit by Ken Kremer/Universe Today to observe prelaunch processing by Orbital Sciences at NASA Wallops, VA. ISS astronauts will open this hatch to unload 2780 pounds of cargo. Docking mechanism hooks and latches to ISS at left. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
Space journalists Ken Kremer/Universe Today (left) and Mike Killian  and Alan Walters  of AmericaSpace (center, right) setting remote cameras at Antares launch pad amidst bone chilling cold for the photos featured herein.  Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com
Space journalists Ken Kremer/Universe Today (left) and Mike Killian and Alan Walters of AmericaSpace (center, right) setting remote cameras at Antares launch pad amidst bone chilling cold for the imagery featured herein. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

Private Antares/Cygnus rocket Glistens and Go for Launch as Polar Vortex Sweeps in Brutal Bone Chilling Cold

UPDATE: Orbital announced the Antares launch today (Jan. 8) has been scrubbed because of solar activity. More info on the issue and a new launch date will be forthcoming.

Update: NASA and Orbital have set Thursday, Jan. 9 as the new Antares launch date. Liftoff is targeted for 1:07 p.m. (EST) Watch the launch live, below.

WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – Launch managers gave the “GO” for launch of the private Antares/Cygnus rocket to the space station on Wednesday, Jan. 8, even as the polar vortex swept in bone chilling cold to the launch site on the Virginia shore and across much of the United States.

At a launch readiness review today (Jan. 7), managers for spacecraft builder Orbital Sciences approved the launch, pending completion of a few remaining items, said Mike Pinkston, Antares program director for Orbital, at a media briefing today.

The commercial Antares rocket is launching the Cygnus cargo spacecraft on its first operational mission bound for the International Space Station (ISS) with a huge bounty of science experiments.



Live streaming video by Ustream

Antares commercial rocket spacecraft awaits Jan. 8 blastoff at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com
Antares commercial rocket awaits Jan. 8 blastoff at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
Blastoff is slated for 1:32 p.m. EST from Launch Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA Wallops, Virginia.

There is only a 5 minute launch window that extends to 1:37 p.m.

The launch of the two stage, 133 foot tall Antares could put on a spectacular sky show.

Antares blastoff may be visible to millions of spectators up and down the US East Coast spanning from South Carolina to Massachusetts – weather permitting.

Read my complete launch viewing guide – here.

The Antares launch comes amidst the unprecedented, unrelenting and dangerous cold arctic air mass sweeping across the US.

Frigid, high winds buffeted the rocket and launch site all day today as technicians continued last minute preparations, taking care to insure safety for the rocket and themselves.

But tonight Antares and Cygnus were glistening beautifully under star lit skies during my up close visit to the launch pad.

Antares commercial rocket awaits Jan. 8 blastoff to the ISS from on ramp at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com
Antares commercial rocket awaits Jan. 8 blastoff to the ISS from on ramp at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed a day to Wednesday because the rocket is only certified to lift off when the temperature is above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, said Frank Culberton, executive vice president and general manager of Orbital’s advanced spaceflight programs group.

Today’s temperatures at Wallops were only in the single digits and teens and felt much lower with the blustery conditions all day long.

Temperatures are expected to ‘skyrocket’ to the balmy 30’s on Wednesday.

Antares commercial rocket awaits Jan. 8 blastoff at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com
Antares commercial rocket awaits Jan. 8 blastoff at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

There is a 95 percent chance of favorable weather at the time of launch, NASA said. High, thick clouds are the primary concern for a weather violation, but they are minor.

Both the Antares and Cygnus are private vehicles built by Orbital Sciences under a $1.9 Billion supply contract with NASA to deliver 20,000 kilograms of research experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and hardware to the ISS.

Antares commercial rocket spacecraft awaits Jan. 8 blastoff at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com
Antares commercial spacecraft awaits Jan. 8 blastoff at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
The flight is designated the Orbital-1, or Orb-1 mission.

Orbital Sciences commercial competitor, SpaceX, is likewise under contract with NASA to deliver 20,000 kg of supplies to the ISS with the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon architecture.

Both the Orbital Sciences Antares/Cygnus and SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon vehicles were developed from the start with seed money from NASA in a public-private partnership.

A total of eight Antares/Cygnus missions to the space station are scheduled over the next two to three years by Orbital under its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.

This launch follows a pair of successful launches in 2013, including the initial test launch in April and the 1st demonstration launch to the ISS in September.

Cygnus is loaded with approximately 2,780 pounds / 1,261 kilograms of cargo for the ISS crew for NASA including science experiments, computer supplies, spacewalk tools, food, water, clothing and experimental hardware.

Among the research items packed aboard the Antares/Cygnus flight are an experiment to study the effectiveness of antibiotics in space and a batch of 23 student experiments involving life sciences topics ranging from amoeba reproduction to calcium in the bones to salamanders.

Cygnus cargo vessel up close view at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com
Cygnus cargo vessel up close view at Launch Pad 0A at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
There is also an ant farm aboard with ant colonies from Colorado, North Carolina and of course host state Virginia too. The goal is to study ant behavior in space in zero gravity and compare that to ants on Earth living under normal gravity.

So you can watch the launch either with your own eyes, if possible, or via the NASA TV webcast.

NASA Television coverage of the Antares launch will begin at 1 p.m. on Jan. 8 – www.nasa.gov/ntv

A launch on either Jan. 8 or Jan. 9 will result in a grapple of Cygnus by the Expedition 38 crew aboard the station on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 6:02 a.m. EDT.

Watch for my ongoing Antares launch reports from on site at NASA Wallops.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, commercial space, Chang’e-3, LADEE, Mars and more news.

Ken Kremer

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Learn more about Orbital Sciences Antares Jan. 8 launch, SpaceX, Curiosity, Orion, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Jan 7-9: “Antares/Cygnus ISS Rocket Launch from Virginia on Jan. 8” & “Space mission updates”; Rodeway Inn, Chincoteague, VA, evening

Just a GORGEOUS view of Antares at Wallops pad 0A this evening. Space journalists Ken Kremer /Universe Today (right) and Mike Killian (left) setting remote cameras at Antares launch pad amidst bone chilling cold.  Credit: Alan Walters/awaltersphoto.com
Just a GORGEOUS view of Antares at Wallops pad 0A this evening. Space journalists Ken Kremer /Universe Today (right) and Mike Killian (left) setting remote cameras at Antares launch pad amidst bone chilling cold. Credit: Alan Walters/awaltersphoto.com

How to See Spectacular Prime Time Night Launch of Antares Commercial Rocket to ISS on Dec. 19

Antares Launch – Maximum Elevation Map
The Antares nighttime launch will be visible to millions of spectators across a wide area of the Eastern US -weather permitting. This map shows the maximum elevation (degrees above the horizon) that the Antares rocket will reach during the Dec 19, 2013 launch depending on your location along the US east coast. Credit: Orbital Sciences[/caption]

UPDATE: The launch of Cygnus has been delayed until no earlier than January 7, 2014 due to the coolant leak at the International Space Station and necessary spacewalks to fix the problem. You can read more about the issue here and here.

WALLOPS ISLAND, VA – Orbital Sciences Corp. is marching forward with plans for a spectacular night blastoff of the firms privately developed Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft on Thursday, Dec. 19 from a seaside pad at Wallops Island, Virginia on a mission for NASA that’s bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

The nighttime Antares liftoff is currently scheduled for prime time – at 9:19 p.m. EST from Launch Pad 0A at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) at NASA Wallops Island, Virginia. It should be easily visible to tens of millions of residents along a wide swath of the US East Coast spanning from South Carolina to southern Maine – weather permitting.

Here’s our guide on “How to See the Antares/Cygnus Dec. 19 Night Launch” – with your own eyes – complete with viewing maps and trajectory graphics from a variety of prime viewing locations; including Philadelphia, NYC, Baltimore and historic landmarks in Washington, DC.

Update: launch postponed to mid-January 2014 to allow NASA astronauts to conduct 3 EVA’s to swap out the ammonia pump module and restore full cooling capacity to the ISS

It will be visible to spectators inland as well, stretching possibly into portions of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.

For example; Here’s the expected view from Rocky’s famous workout on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Philadelphia
Philadelphia

The viewing maps are courtesy of Orbital Sciences, the private company that developed both the Antares rocket and Cygnus resupply vessel aimed at keeping the ISS fully stocked and operational for science research.

Up top is the map showing the maximum elevation the rocket will reach in the eastern United States.

Capitol-East-Front-Steps
Capitol-East-Front-Steps

The flight is designated the Orbital-1, or Orb-1 mission.

Orb-1 is the first of eight commercial cargo resupply missions to the ISS by Orbital according to its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.

Of course you can still view the launch live via the NASA TV webcast.

This marks the maiden night launch of the two stage Antares rocket following a pair of daytime test and demonstration launches earlier this year, in April and September.

It’s important to note that the Dec. 19 liftoff is still dependent on NASA engineers resolving the significant issue with the ammonia cooling system that popped up late last week when a critical flow control valve malfunctioned.

If the pump valve can’t be brought back online, two American astronauts may make two or three unscheduled spacewalks starting later this week.

So in the event spacewalks are required, Antares launch could still slip a few days to the end of the launch window around Dec. 21 or Dec. 22. Thereafter the launch would be postponed until January 2014.

Battery Park, NYC
Battery Park, NYC

Here’s your chance to witness a mighty rocket launch – from the comfort of your home and nearby locations along the east coast.

And its smack dab in the middle of the Christmas and holiday season resplendent with shining bright lights.

Weather outlook appears rather promising at this time – 95% favorable chance of lift off.

National Mall, Washington, DC
National Mall, Washington, DC

The rocket was rolled out to the Wallops launch pad this morning by Orbital’s technicians.

Cygnus is loaded with approximately 1465 kg (3,230 lbs.) of cargo for the ISS crew for NASA.

NASA Television coverage of the Antares launch will begin at 8:45 p.m. on Dec. 19 – www.nasa.gov/ntv

Stay tuned here for Ken’s Antares launch reports from NASA Wallops Flight Facility, VA.

Ken Kremer

Iwo Jima memorial
Iwo Jima memorial
Dover
Dover

Elon Musk Briefs Universe Today & Media ahead of Revolutionary Falcon 9 Blastoff

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
See live SpaceX webcast link below[/caption]

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – A new space era potentially dawns today, Nov. 25, with the planned maiden launch of the next generation SpaceX Falcon 9 commercial rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL, that could completely revolutionize how we access the high frontier and “rock the space industry to its core” by cutting cost and production times – if all goes well.

Just a day before liftoff, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk personally briefed reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL, nearby the firms Cape Canaveral launch facility about today’s (Nov. 25) upcoming maiden launch of the companies upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, saying it was “very important” for the future.

“This launch is very important to the future of SpaceX. This is our toughest mission yet!” said Musk to a small group of reporters, including the author, gathered for Sunday’s exclusive pre-launch briefing.

“Whether or not this launch is successful, I’m confident we will certainly make it on some subsequent launch,” said Musk at the Cocoa Beach meeting with the media.

The Falcon 9 liftoff from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL is scheduled for 5:37pm EST and will be webcast live by SpaceX for viewing at; www.spacex.com/webcast

Today’s (Nov. 25) inaugural blastoff of the privately developed Falcon 9 rocket with the commercial SES-8 HDTV and telecommunications satellite is especially noteworthy because it also features SpaceX’s first ever launch of any satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

From the start, SpaceX designed the Falcon 9 rocket from a clean sheet aimed at radically reducing production and manufacturing costs and assembly times and thereby offer significantly lower launch price, says Musk.

“I don’t want to tempt fate, but I think it’s going to have a pretty significant impact on the world launch market and on the launch industry because our prices are the most competitive of any in the world,” Musk stated.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

SES-8 also represents SpaceX’s first launch of a Falcon 9 carrying a commercial satellite to space from the Florida Space Coast.

“This is really rocking the industry. Everybody has to look out,” said Martin Halliwell, SES chief technical officer, who joined Musk at Sunday’s meeting.

The 3,138 kg (6,918 lbs) SES-8 satellite is a hybrid Ku- and Ka-band spacecraft that will provide TV and communications coverage for the South Asia and Asia Pacific regions.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Urijan Poerink
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk (right) and Martin Halliwell (left), SES chief technical officer briefs reporters including Universe Today on Sunday (Nov. 24) in Cocoa Beach, FL prior to planned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blastoff with SES-8 communications satellite set for Nov. 25, 2013 from Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Urijan Poerink

The SES-8 spacecrft was built by Orbital Sciences Corp and will be lofted to a 295 x 80,000 km geosynchronous transfer orbit inclined 20.75 degrees.

SpaceX has signed nearly 50 commercial and government launch contracts and thus already sports a very crowded launch manifest ahead of today’s Falcon 9 launch.

All five launches of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station were either test launches or flights to the International Space Station, under contract to NASA.

The five Falcon 9 launches to date from the Florida Space Coast also featured the original, less powerful and shorter version of the booster and has a 100% success rate.

This mighty new version of the Falcon 9 dubbed v1.1 is powered by a cluster of nine of SpaceX’s new Merlin 1D engines that are about 50% more powerful compared to the standard Merlin 1C engines. The nine Merlin 1D engines 1.3 million pounds of thrust at sea level that rises to 1.5 million pounds as the rocket climbs to orbit.

Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Next Generation SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

Therefore the upgraded Falcon 9 can boost a much heavier cargo load to the ISS, low Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and beyond.

The next generation Falcon 9 is a monster. It measures 224 feet tall and is 12 feet in diameter. That compares to 13 stories for the original Falcon 9.

The payload fairing for SES-8 is 17 feet in diameter.

The Falcon 9/SES-8 launch window extends for 66 minutes until 6:43 p.m. EST.
Weather outlook is 80% favorable at this time.

SpaceX is planning a live webcast of the launch with commentary from SpaceX corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA.

The broadcast will begin at approximately 5:00 p.m. EDT and include detailed discussions about the Falcon 9 rocket, launch and flight sequences as well as about the SES-8 satellite.

Stay tuned here for continuing SpaceX & MAVEN news and Ken’s SpaceX launch reports from on site at Cape Canaveral & the Kennedy Space Center press site.

Ken Kremer

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Learn more about SpaceX, LADEE, MAVEN, MOM, Mars rovers, Orion and more at Ken’s upcoming presentations

Nov 22-25: “SpaceX launch, MAVEN Mars Launch and Curiosity Explores Mars, Orion and NASA’s Future”, Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, 8 PM

Dec 11: “Curiosity, MAVEN and the Search for Life on Mars”, “LADEE & Antares ISS Launches from Virginia”, Rittenhouse Astronomical Society, Franklin Institute, Phila, PA, 8 PM

Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS from Cape Canaveral, Florida.- shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com
Falcon 9 SpaceX CRS-2 launch on March 1, 2013 to the ISS from Cape Canaveral, Florida.- shot from the roof of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: Ken Kremer/www.kenkremer.com