SpaceX launches Canadian satellite from California (Update 2)

Sep 29, 2013
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 as it makes its West Coast debut from Space Launch Complex-4. SpaceX carried a satellite dubbed Cassiope, which carries instruments to study space storms in the upper atmosphere and their potential effects on GPS navigation and radio communications. This was the first time the Southern California-based private rocket maker flew the next-generation version that boasts upgraded engines designed to improve performance and deliver heavier payloads. (AP Photo/The Times, Daniel Dreifuss)

A SpaceX rocket carrying a Canadian satellite intended to track space weather launched from the California coast Sunday in what was billed as a test flight.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, shortly after 9 a.m. under clear skies, eventually reaching its intended orbit.

SpaceX launched an older model of Falcon 9 five times from Florida. This was the first time the Southern California-based private rocket maker flew the next-generation version that boasts upgraded engines designed to improve performance and deliver heavier payloads.

The rocket carried a satellite dubbed Cassiope, a project of the Canadian Space Agency and other partners.

Once in orbit, scientists led by the University of Calgary hope to start powering up instruments after a checkout period, but the actual mission to track space weather won't begin until next month. Cassiope carries instruments to study space storms in the upper atmosphere and their potential effects on GPS navigation and radio communications.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 as it makes its West Coast debut from Space Launch Complex-4. SpaceX carried a satellite dubbed Cassiope, which carries instruments to study space storms in the upper atmosphere and their potential effects on GPS navigation and radio communications. This was the first time the Southern California-based private rocket maker flew the next-generation version that boasts upgraded engines designed to improve performance and deliver heavier payloads. (AP Photo/The Times, Daniel Dreifuss)

SpaceX considered Sunday's launch a demonstration flight to test the capabilities of the improved rocket. It was the third launch from the Vandenberg base this week. Earlier, the Air Force launched back-to-back unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles that traveled 4,200 miles (6,760 kilometers) over the Pacific Ocean.

Besides launching small satellites, SpaceX—or Space Exploration Technologies Corp. —has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to make a dozen unmanned missions to restock the International Space Station. SpaceX has completed three flights so far to the orbiting laboratory.

With NASA's space shuttle fleet retired, SpaceX is also working to modify its capsules to transport astronauts in several years. Until then, NASA astronauts are hitching rides on Russian rockets to zip to and from the space station.

A SpaceX competitor, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., launched its first-ever cargo ship bound for the space station earlier this month. The arrival of Orbital's Cygnus capsule, bearing chocolate and clothing, had been delayed because of a software problem, but it docked with the space station Sunday.

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tigger
5 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2013
Phew, they made it! A space station without chocolate is a very sad place indeed!
Q-Star
5 / 5 (2) Sep 29, 2013
That was the other guy who delivered the chocolate. Orbital Sciences. Their first time docking with the ISS.

But this is a biggie too, it's SpaceX's first launch of their largest version of the Dragon 9, and first time launch from Vandenberg on the west coast.

It was a very big day for private space ventures.
Neinsense99
1 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2013
Phew, they made it! A space station without chocolate is a very sad place indeed!

If you think the Canadian Space Agency is there just to provide chocolate, your knowledge of space exploration history needs some work. Or you could read the article.
GSwift7
not rated yet Sep 30, 2013
But this is a biggie too, it's SpaceX's first launch of their largest version of the Dragon 9,


And moving up to the larger version of the '9 gives them a green light to complete the Dragon Heavy. That's what really sets SpaceX apart from Orbital. Orbital doesn't have anything with heavy lift.

I just hope SpaceX can maintain their good reliability record. They need more flights to prove that it's not just luck. If they can stay reliable, even with the Heavy, then they'll really have zero competition.
Neinsense99
1 / 5 (1) Sep 30, 2013
But this is a biggie too, it's SpaceX's first launch of their largest version of the Dragon 9,


And moving up to the larger version of the '9 gives them a green light to complete the Dragon Heavy. That's what really sets SpaceX apart from Orbital. Orbital doesn't have anything with heavy lift.

I just hope SpaceX can maintain their good reliability record. They need more flights to prove that it's not just luck. If they can stay reliable, even with the Heavy, then they'll really have zero competition.

Let's hope they continue to have some competition. After all, Microsoft had no serious competition for a while, and we got Windows ME and Vista.
The Singularity
not rated yet Oct 03, 2013
As they already have instruments monitoring space weather & a very good understanding of what is & its effects, what is the point of this satellite? & who is funding it?
Neinsense99
not rated yet Oct 03, 2013
As they already have instruments monitoring space weather & a very good understanding of what is & its effects, what is the point of this satellite? & who is funding it?

Your profiles says UK, so you are not funding it. Satellites also go dead eventually, and must be replaced to continue coverage. Canada, being a northern nation, may want to have its own source of information about space weather and the poles.
See http://www.asc-cs...iope.asp