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Template:Infobox spaceflight

SpaceX CRS-8, also known as SpX-8,[1] was a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) which was launched on April 8, 2016, at 20:43 UTC. It was the 23rd flight of a Falcon 9 rocket, the tenth flight of a Dragon cargo spacecraft and the eighth operational mission contracted to SpaceX by NASA under the Commercial Resupply Services program.[2] The capsule carried over 3,100 kilograms (Template:Convert/round lb) of cargo to the ISS including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), a prototype inflatable space habitat delivered in the vehicle's trunk, which will be attached to the station for two years of in-orbit viability tests.[3] After boosting the payload on its way, the rocket's first stage re-entered the denser layers of the atmosphere and landed vertically on the ocean platform Of Course I Still Love You nine minutes after liftoff,[4] achieving a long-sought-after milestone in SpaceX's reusable rocket program.

Launch schedule historyEdit

CRS-8 liftoff (25709481274) (2)

Falcon 9 lifting off from SLC-40 on April 8, 2016.

The launch was initially scheduled by NASA to occur no earlier than September 2, 2015. The launch date went under review pending the outcome of the analysis of the failure of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle in SpaceX CRS-7, a June 2015 flight. The return-to-flight (RTF) project included additional improvements.[5]

With additional manifest changes announced by SpaceX in mid-October, CRS-8 was scheduled to be the third launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 full thrust rocket.[6] By March 2016, the launch date was set to April 8, 2016, with a backup launch window the next day.

The spacecraft was finally launched on schedule, at 20:43 UTC on April 8, 2016. The rocket first stage separated around 2 minutes 40 seconds after liftoff, and the second stage separated around ten minutes 30 seconds after liftoff.

Primary payloadEdit

NASA has contracted for the CRS-8 mission from SpaceX and therefore determines the orbital parameters for the primary payload – the Dragon space capsule.

The mission delivered 3,136 kilograms (Template:Convert/round lb) of supplies, experiments, and hardware to the ISS. These include the station's first expandable module, called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which is expected to remain on the station for at least two years of observation and testing.[2][7] Also delivered in the Dragon were sixteen Flock 2d 3U CubeSats for the Earth-observing Flock constellation, built and operated by Planet Labs, which will be deployed by the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer.[8]

First stage landingEdit

Main article: Falcon 9 first-stage landing tests
CRS-8 (26239020092)

First stage of Falcon 9 Flight 23 landed on autonomous spaceport drone ship

After placing the CRS-8 cargo on its way to the International Space Station, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket conducted an experimental boostback and re-entry maneuver over the Atlantic Ocean. Nine minutes after liftoff, at 20:52:10 UTC, the booster landed vertically on the autonomous spaceport drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, 300 kilometers (Template:Convert/round mi) from the Florida coastline, achieving a long-sought-after milestone for the SpaceX reusable launch system development program.[4]

This was the second successful landing achieved by a SpaceX orbital launch vehicle and the first vertical landing by any organization on a floating platform. SpaceX first landed a Falcon 9 on solid ground at Cape Canaveral with flight 20 on December 22, 2015.[4]

Port arrivalEdit

The drone ship carried the stage to Port Canaveral, Florida, arriving on April 12, 2016 (UTC),[9] where it was offloaded. SpaceX plans to keep this first stage in Cape Canaveral and conduct a series of test fires to ensure that the vehicle is ready for a future operational mission.[10] According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the rocket will likely be test-fired at Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39.[11] Musk noted that assuming the test fires went well, the stage would likely be reflown for a mission in June 2016.[11]

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Template:Dragon spaceflights

Template:Unmanned ISS resupply flights

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