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LIFTOFF: Falcon 9 and Dragon begin CRS-6 mission to resupply the Space Station

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning SpaceX’s sixth official mission to resupply the space station for NASA. The launch occurred at 4:10pm EDT and while weather had remained a concern during the countdown, Falcon 9 executed a picture-perfect liftoff into a nearly cloudless sky.Falcon 9 was carrying the Dragon spacecraft, which is loaded with about 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

Above, Dragon is in processing prior to being mated to Falcon 9.

Approximately three minutes into flight, Falcon 9’s second stage and Dragon separated from the rocket’s first stage. The second stage’s single Merlin Vacuum engine ignited for a seven-minute burn to deliver Dragon to its initial orbit.Dragon separated from Falcon 9 approximately 10 minutes into flight, and began deploying its solar arrays shortly thereafter. Below the solar array fairings can be seen separating from the spacecraft.Dragon will now begin a two-and-a-half day journey to reach the ISS. It is targeted to be grappled by the station’s robotic arm on Friday, April 17 at approximately 7:00am EDT, with berthing and hatch opening occurring over the following day.

Meanwhile, Falcon 9’s first stage attempted a precision landing on our autonomous spaceport drone ship named “Just Read the Instructions” as part of an ongoing attempt to land and recover a rocket after it completes its primary mission. The stage made it to the drone ship and landed, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over.SpaceX’s next landing and recovery attempt will occur during the CRS-7 mission, currently targeted for June 2015.