Falcon 9 launches

Falcon 9 v1.1 1st launch

SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 12 noon EDT (1600 GMT) Sunday, September 29. (credit: SpaceX webcast)

As NASA was holding a press conference late this morning to discuss the successful berthing of the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station, SpaceX was making its contribution to a busy commercial space Sunday. At Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the company made final preparations for the launch of the first 1.1 version of the Falcon 9, notable for its stretched first stage and upgraded Merlin 1D engines. During the countdown webcast, company officials said all the various factors that go into a launch—the launch vehicle itself, spacecraft, range, and weather—were all green. Yet, given this was effectively a new launch vehicle, many assumed that there would be an abort at some point before liftoff.

That wasn’t the case. At 12 noon EDT (1600 GMT), at the beginning of a three-hour launch window, the Falcon 9 v1.1 lifted off the pad. Liftoff, stage separation, payload fairing separation (also a first on this mission), and second stage cutoff all appeared to go as planned. “It looks like it was a picture-perfect flight,” a SpaceX official said on the webcast, which ended before confirmation of payload separation. (There was just word that the primary payload, the CASSIOPE satellite for Canada, did indeed separate.) A post-launch press conference is expected to take place later today, but nothing official has been announced.

1 comment to Falcon 9 launches

  • DocM

    And a beautiful launch it was, and under perfect skies. Hat’s off to the SpaceX and Vandenberg teams. They’ve earned a few cold ones.

    Even though a soft water touchdown failed to occur it certainly seems that the pieces are in place for a full recovery. That will be something to see.

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