Nov 24, 2021

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aces first interplanetary launch

Posted by in categories: drones, space travel

SpaceX has aced its first operational interplanetary launch, sending NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft on its way out of the Earth-Moon system as part of the world’s first planetary defense mission.

Right on time, SpaceX’s flight-proven Falcon 9 booster lifted off at 10:21 pm PST with an expendable upper stage, new fairing, and the ~630 kg (~1400 lb) DART spacecraft in tow, reaching a nominal low Earth parking orbit about eight minutes later. A few seconds after the second stage’s first engine cutoff (SECO-1), booster B1063 safely landed on drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), wrapping up its third orbital-class launch and spaceflight in twelve months.

Around 28 minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9’s orbital second stage fired up for the second and final time. In just 53 seconds, Falcon 9’s upper stage accelerated from a stable velocity (relative to Earth’s surface) of 7.5 kilometers per second (4.7 mi/s) to almost 11.1 km/s (6.9 mi/s), sending DART (and itself) from low Earth orbit (LEO) to an Earth escape trajectory that will ultimately leave them in orbit around the sun.

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