Navigation
Suscribe
Menu Search Facebook Twitter
Search Close
Menu ALL SECTIONS
  • Capital Coahuila
  • Capital Hidalgo
  • Capital Jalisco
  • Capital Morelos
  • Capital Oaxaca
  • Capital Puebla
  • Capital Quintana Roo
  • Capital Querétaro
  • Capital Veracruz
  • Capital México
  • Capital Michoacán
  • Capital Mujer
  • Reporte Índigo
  • Estadio Deportes
  • The News
  • Efekto
  • Diario DF
  • Capital Edo. de Méx.
  • Green TV
  • Revista Cambio
Radio Capital
Pirata FM
Capital Máxima
Capital FM
Digital
Prensa
Radio
TV
X
Newsletter
Facebook Twitter
X Welcome! Subscribe to our newsletter and receive news, data, statistical and exclusive promotions for subscribers
Business

SpaceX Launches Rocket from NASA's Historic Moon Pad

As an extra special treat, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral eight minutes after liftoff, a feat accomplished only twice before

In this image from NASA TV, the SpaceX Falcon rocket launches from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, photo: AP/NASA
4 months ago

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — A SpaceX rocket soared from NASA’s long-idled moonshot pad Sunday, sending up space station supplies from the exact spot where astronauts embarked on the lunar landings nearly a half-century ago.

It was the first flight from NASA’s legendary Launch Complex 39A since the shuttle program ended almost six years ago, and SpaceX’s first liftoff from Florida since a rocket explosion last summer.

As an extra special treat, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral eight minutes after liftoff, a feat accomplished only twice before. Most of SpaceX’s eight successful booster landings — rocket recycling at its finest — have used ocean platforms. As they did during the shuttle era, sonic booms heralded Sunday’s return.

SpaceX employees at company flight headquarters in Southern California cheered as the 15-story booster landed upright at its designated parking spot at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk celebrated the successful touchdown via Twitter.

 

The celebratory roar grew when the Dragon cargo ship successfully reached orbit a couple minutes later. It will reach the space station Wednesday, delivering 5,500 pounds of food, clothes and experiments.

It was SpaceX’s second launch attempt in a row. Saturday’s effort was foiled by last-minute rocket concerns. The repairs paid off, and even the clouds parted enough to ensure a safe flight.

Musk said he’s honored to use Launch Complex 39A. The company hopes to launch astronauts from this very spot next year, bringing U.S. crew launches back to home soil after a longer-than-intended hiatus. SpaceX Mars missions, first robots then people, could follow from here.

If the pad weathered Sunday’s launch well, another Falcon could be standing there for a satellite send-up in just two weeks.

Kennedy Space Center’s director Robert Cabana, a former shuttle commander who flew four times from 39A, is thrilled to see the pad used for commercial flights like this “instead of just sitting out there and rusting away.” It’s a stark contrast, he noted, to the depression that followed the final shuttle mission in 2011.

“It’s just really an exciting time,” Cabana said just before liftoff.

It was a momentous comeback for SpaceX. The last time SpaceX had a rocket ready to fly from Cape Canaveral, it blew up on a neighboring pad during prelaunch testing on Sept. 1. Although the company successfully returned to flight last month from California, the focus was on getting leased Launch Complex 39A ready for action given that the pad with the accident was left unusable. The damaged pad should be back in action later this year.

Built in the mid-1960s for the massive Saturn V moon rockets, Launch Complex 39A has now seen 95 launches. Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins left Earth from here on July 16, 1969, on the first moon-landing mission. The very first space shuttle pilots, John Young and Robert Crippen, soared from here on April 12, 1981. And in a grand shuttle finale, Atlantis took off from here on July 8, 2011.

NASA signed over 39A to SpaceX in 2014 under a 20-year lease.

SpaceX has spent tens of millions of dollars to make 39A Falcon-ready. By the time astronauts climb into a Dragon capsule to fly to the space station, Shotwell said, pad renovations will exceed $100 million.

Last week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office warned the commercial crew launches by SpaceX and Boeing are at risk of slipping into 2019. “The hell we won’t fly before 2019,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters in response.

 


In a tweet Saturday, Musk said the company has already “retired” so much research and development risk on the crew Dragon capsule “that I feel very confident of 2018.”

As for the second-stage steering issue that cropped up Saturday, SpaceX hustled to replace an engine part before Sunday morning’s try. Musk said he personally called Saturday’s launch off, saying he was unwilling to risk something going wrong.

For SpaceX employees long accustomed to breaking new ground, Sunday was “a huge deal for us,” according to SpaceX’s Dragon mission manager, Jessica Jensen.

“I’m sure the team will be out celebrating,” Jensen told reporters. “We’ll be out tonight if you want to find us.”

MARCIA DUNN

Comments Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
More From The News
World

Trump to Host Trump Re-election Fundrais ...

11 hours ago
Sports

Grunewald Ready to Race at Nationals in ...

11 hours ago
World

2 Dutch Journalists Remain in Captivity ...

11 hours ago
World

UN Says IS Targets Children to Hold Mosu ...

11 hours ago
Most Popular

France's Macron to Reshuffle Govt After ...

By The Associated Press
World

Official: FBI Looking at Terrorism in Fl ...

By Ricardo Castillo
World

Questions of Electorial Fraud in the Sta ...

By Dalila Escobar
Mexico

Fidget Spinners Named Among Possible Sum ...

By The Associated Press
World

A Chef Obsessed

By Thérèse Margolis
Living