The count down started at T-60. After lift-off, It took 10 minutes to reach the orbit before Falcon9 separates from Dragon. Dragon is expected to reach the ISS on Sunday and NASA is expected a space walk on Sunday too. Dragon is not only taking 2089kg of cargo up to ISS, but it will also be taking 1583kg of cargo back after it's due to stay for 3 weeks.
It's going to get busy with 5 CubeSats being launched:
- ALL-STAR, the Agile Low-cost Laboratory for Space Technology Acceleration and Research
- KickSat: a kickstarter project to deploy a constellation of 104 “Sprites” or “ChipSats. Sprites are essentially a doubled sided electronic chip (printed circuit board) with programmable microcontroller, sensors, radio (operating at 437MHz) for communication, and solar cells for power. These Sprites are essentially personal satellites. Personal as in personal computer: One of the sprites has been developed by a great community in the British Interplanetary Society, which Citizen Inventors has heard from in our second meetup!
- PhoneSat: the 5th one now, it's a technology demonstrator for NASA’s planned Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) constellation.
- SporeSat: to study how the plant ceratopteris richardii grows in space under artificial gravity. This is not the only plant related payload. The other plant related payload is not a CubeSat, it's about the size of a microwave: Veggies (NASA's veg-01 experiment) is bringing up fresh plant to be grown in the ISS and to be studied under microgravity. Fresh salad in space one day, fancy that!
- TestSat-Lite (TSAT): to study the use of satellite communications to relay data to ground stations.
Did I say it's going to get busy? It's not just for the scientist - but you too. Zac from KickSat has been putting out a call/contest to everyone on earth to participate in listening to the sprites signals. A tweet from BIS has just came in saying "@g8fjg has received signal from #KickSat CubeSat from 22KM East of London. Short bursts recorded and another satellite in the same orbit."
And for those who would rather watch, NASA is beaming video down, yes, beaming! With OPAL (Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science) on board of the cargo, NASA is expecting to laser beam video to earth. Why laser beam? "OPALS will demonstrate up to 50 megabits per second, and future deep space optical communication systems will provide over one gigabits per second from Mars." - source from NASA. NASA hopes to boost the connection speed by 50 times!
And of course, this missions is developing towards a reusable launcher, Falcon9 v.1.1 could show some landing legs on return.
A detail of the launch schedule and the content of the cargo is described here and here.