For those of you did not drink enough coffee to stay up until 1:44am MDT missed out on quite a spectacle as the first commercial rocket with a payload to visit the International Space Station (ISS) lifted off from Cape Canaveral. For me it brought back memories of watching the STS-135 space shuttle launch last July in person.
For those that don’t know, the launch was of the SpaceX Dragon Capsule aboard the Falcon 9 rocket. This is the first rocket and second launch amongst the COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) program of NASA. This program is the beginning of the post-space shuttle era where commercial companies will be used to launch payloads into orbit while NASA focuses on deep space projects.
While the project will not be considered a success until it docks with the ISS on 25 May and returns to Earth on 31 May, it was a big first step. This also will be the first visit of a US spacecraft to the ISS post-space shuttle and hopefully the beginning of NASA once again having a way to send astronauts/supplies into orbit.
Here is the launch video (courtesy of NASA):