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Up, up and away … finally

by Dubaiforum

Delayed Falcon 9 soars from Vandenberg

The mission control room erupted into applause and cheers as the Falcon 9 rocket — after a week of delays — finally took off Friday morning from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The rocket was supposed to have taken off on Tuesday, but there were delays throughout the week, and the wintry weather played a role in those. But on Friday, the weather was calm, the sun bright. And off the SpaceX rocket went, straight up into the deep blue sky, followed by a flawless separation of the first and second stages.

The first stage came back to Earth and landed on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You. The second stage went on its way and ultimately deployed 51 Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit as part of efforts to improve internet access around the world. 

“The weather is looking great for today’s launch,” SpaceX commercial sales manager Ronnie Foreman told viewers watching the livestream at SpaceX.com.

As the countdown continued, wispy clouds — routine venting of gasses, nothing to worry about — came from the sides of the rocket.

Right on schedule, at 10:38 a.m., the Falcon 9 took off.

“Go, Falcon! Go, Starlink!” an announcer said.

Soon the rocket was traveling faster than the speed of sound. About a minute later, it achieved Max Q.

“That’s when the vehicle is experiencing the greatest amount of external stresses,” Ms. Foreman said.

Two minutes after the launch came a series of back-to-back events that culminated in the separation of the first and second stages.

It was ultimately a successful week on both coasts for SpaceX. On Thursday, SpaceX’s crewed flight took two American astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. The Dragon capsule docked with the ISS at 10:15 p.m. Pacific time Thursday.

email: dmason@newspress.com

DF

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