Gallery: CRS-18 another check in the ‘Win Box’ for SpaceX
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the CRS-18 Dragon on the capsule’s third flight to the International Space Station on Thursday, July 25. In many ways it marked a repeat performance for the NewSpace company.
Taking to the skies at 6:01 p.m. EDT (22:01 UTC) Thursday July 25, 2019, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40, the Block 5 Falcon 9 raced skyward into the black after a 24-hour delay caused by bad weather.
At 213 feet (65 meters) tall, the two stage Falcon 9 is a partially reusable launch vehicle. It’s 150-foot (46-meter) tall first stage, carried out its second mission before safely touching down at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone 1.
Some 2 minutes, 17 seconds into the flight, the nine Merlin 1D engines cut off as planned. Seconds later, the first stage separated from the second stage and began a series of maneuvers to return to the Space Coast.
Meanwhile, the second stage fired its lone Merlin Vacuum engine to finish the job of sending the CRS-18 Dragon on its way to the orbiting lab. The vehicle bore both badges of honor as well as a badge of respect. Two ISS logos adorned the Cargo Dragon in honor of its frequent flyer status. It also bore the Apollo 11 50th anniversary logo, commemorating the Moon landing that had occurred 50 years and 5 days earlier.
To make its way back to the Cape Canaveral area, the rocket ignited a subset of three of its nine engines to boost back toward Florida. Several minutes later, a second burn—the entry burn—was performed to cushion its entry back into the atmosphere.
With the CRS-18 Dragon in orbit, it is expected to spend two days chasing the International Space Station. Should all go according to plan, it is set to rendezvous with the outpost on Saturday July 27.
The following photos were taken by SpaceFlight Insider’s visual team and are courtesy of Graham Smith and Scott Schilke. If you enjoy our coverage and are able, consider supporting us on Patreon to help in our efforts to to bring you fantastic content about the space industry!