AIR SPACE

SpaceX preps for historic first mission to the ISS

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket topped with the unmanned Dragon capsule is embarking on a historic mission to the International Space Station on May 7 -- the first ever attempt by a commercial company.

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The Falcon 9 successfully launches during a key buildup test 2 years ago.

SpaceX

Lift-Off!

SpaceX's debut Falcon 9 rocket soars into space on its maiden flight during a test launch on June 4th, 2010.

Chris Thompson/SpaceX

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Falcon 9's supersonic shock wave.
SpaceX

Rocket Motor Test-Fire

The Falcon 9 successfully test-fires its rocket on the launch pad on March 15th, 2012, meeting a critical benchmark in its mission to launch by June 4th.

SpaceX

Final Integration

The Falcon 9 vehicle undergoes final integration at the SpaceX launch site in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The nine Merlin 1C engines are at far left, and second stage is at far right.

SpaceX

Obama On-Site

President Barak Obama gets an up-close look at the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch site just prior to his national speech at the Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2010.

AP

Installing Tank Structure

Installing the Falcon 9 Flight 2 second stage tank structure (white cylinder, top) and test interstage (black cylinder, center) into the structural test stand at SpaceX's Texas Test Facility.

SpaceX

Interstage Under Assembly

Looking through the interstage for Falcon 9 Flight 2, shown undergoing final assembly in California. The four black containers will house the parachutes that will help return the first stage to Earth after stage separation.

SpaceX

Merlin 1C

A Merlin 1C first stage engine is shown here undergoing final integration into the thrust structure assembly in Hawthorne, California before being shipped to Texas for mating with the first stage tank.

SpaceX

Merlin Vacuum Engine

A second stage Merlin Vacuum engine preparing to leave the Hawthorne factory.

SpaceX

Draco Thrusters

Testing a set of five Draco thrusters, conducted at SpaceX's Texas Test Facility.

SpaceX

Dragon Spacecraft

Four Draco thrusters will fire to pull the Dragon spacecraft away from its expended trunk section in preparation for reentry.

SpaceX

Dragon Spacecraft Reentering

Protected by a PICA-X heat shield, the Dragon spacecraft will reenter the Earth's atmosphere at around 7 kilometers per second (15,660 miles per hour), heating the exterior of the spacecraft as high as 2000 degrees Celsius (3620 degrees F).

SpaceX

Falcon 9 Heavy

The Falcon 9 Heavy will be SpaceX’s entry into the heavy lift launch vehicle category. Capable of lifting over 28,000 kg to Low Earth Orbit, and over 15,000 kg to Geostationary Transfer Orbit, the Falcon 9 Heavy will compete with the largest commercial launchers now available.

SpaceX

Light Show

Arclights illuminate the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it stands vertical on its pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX

Full Moon

The full moon sets behind the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it stands vertical on its pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

 

SpaceX

Sunset

Sunset behind the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it stands vertical on its pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

SpaceX

Engine Closeup

A Closer Look at the Falcon 9's Engine System.

SpaceX

180 Feet High

View from high above the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket as it stands vertical on its pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The SpaceX team completed vehicle integration on December 30, 2008, and the new SpaceX-built transporter and erector system raised the 17 foot diameter, 180 foot long rocket to vertical via massive hydraulic cylinders.

SpaceX

Elon Musk, SpaceX Founder

SpaceX Founder, Elon Musk, stands in front of his new toy.

SpaceX

Launch Pad

The Falcon's Cape Canaveral Launch Pad.

SpaceX

Night Falcon

The Falcon 9 is currently waiting to start its maiden voyage.

SpaceX

Falcon 9 Ready for Launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands vertical on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral, FL. The SpaceX team completed vehicle integration on December 30, 2008, and the new SpaceX-built transporter and erector system raised the 12 foot diameter, 180 foot long rocket to vertical via massive hydraulic cylinders.

SpaceX

Engine Test

Pre-voyage engine tests are performed on the Falcon 9. 

SpaceX

SpaceX preps for historic first mission to the ISS

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket topped with the unmanned Dragon capsule is embarking on a historic mission to the International Space Station on May 7 -- the first ever attempt by a commercial company.

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