The SpaceX team is creating history again. In case you missed it, their Falcon 9 rocket topped with the Dragon capsule full of 1,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station launched successfully last night at 8:35 PM EDT. This video takes you from launch to orbit. The Dragon successfully separated from the Falcon 9 second stage, deployed its solar panels, and got busy chasing the ISS. The capsule will arrive on Wednesday. Once the supplies are delivered, the Dragon will be loaded with 2,000 pounds of material to return to earth, including 700 pounds of experiment results from the ISS. The United States now has the capability to deliver and return its own supplies in a way we haven't had since the last Space Shuttle retired.
Congrats to the men and women of SpaceX. This is a real boost for the commercial spaceflight program.
UPDATE: The Falcon 9 launch made news in more ways than one. It seems that during its ascent, one of the nine rockets in the first stage had to be shut down. The onboard computer quickly recalculated the duration of firing required by the remaining eight engines to achieve the desired orbit. All went well and the Dragon capsule continued on its journey unaffected. This is an old trick used by the Saturn V rockets back in our moon launch days. How wise to revive and update that technology in the Falcon 9.