SpaceX CRS-8

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SpaceX CRS-8
CRS-8 Dragon from ISS (ISS047E050978).jpg
The CRS-8 SpaceX Dragon captured by Canadarm on April 10, 2016
Mission type ISS resupply
Operator SpaceX / NASA
COSPAR ID 2016-024A
SATCAT № 41452
Mission duration 32 days, 21 hours, 48 minutes
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Dragon
Manufacturer SpaceX
Start of mission
Launch date April 8, 2016, 20:43 (2016-04-08UTC20:43) UTC
Rocket Falcon 9 FT[1]
Launch site Cape Canaveral SLC-40
Contractor SpaceX
End of mission
Disposal Recovered
Landing date May 11, 2016, 18:31 (2016-05-11UTC18:32) UTC[2]
Landing site Pacific Ocean[2]
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 402 km (250 mi)
Apogee 405 km (252 mi)
Inclination 51.64 degrees
Period 92.63 minutes
Epoch May 10, 2016, 13:19:38 UTC
Berthing at ISS
Berthing port Harmony nadir
RMS capture April 10, 2016, 11:23 UTC[3]
Berthing date April 10, 2016, 13:57 UTC[3]
Unberthing date May 11, 2016
RMS release May 11, 2016, 13:19 UTC[3]
Mass 3,136 kg (6,914 lb)
Pressurised 1,723 kg (3,799 lb)
Unpressurised 1,413 kg (3,115 lb)

SpaceX CRS-8 Patch.png
NASA SpX-8 mission patch

Commercial Resupply Services
← SpaceX CRS-7 SpaceX CRS-9

SpaceX CRS-8, also known as SpX-8,[4] 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.[5] The capsule carried over 3,100 kilograms (6,800 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.[6]

After boosting the payload on its orbital trajectory, the rocket's first stage re-entered the denser layers of the atmosphere and landed vertically on the ocean landing platform Of Course I Still Love You nine minutes after liftoff,[7] achieving a long-sought-after milestone in SpaceX reusable launch system development program. This marks the first time a reusable rocket was able to complete its mission and achieve a soft landing on an ocean-based platform.[7]

This flight's first stage is slated to be the first one reflown by SpaceX, and is intended to be reused in the launch of the SES-10 satellite in early 2017.

Launch schedule history[edit]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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 payload[edit]

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 (6,914 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.[5][10] 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.[11]

First stage landing[edit]

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 (190 mi) from the Florida coastline, achieving a long-sought-after milestone for the SpaceX reusable launch system development program.[7] The video of the landing of the booster shows one of the legs outside of the bull's eye's outer circle.

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.[7]

Port arrival[edit]

The drone ship carried the stage to Port Canaveral, Florida, arriving on April 12, 2016 (UTC),[12] 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.[13] According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the rocket will likely be test-fired at Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39.[14] Musk noted that assuming the test fires went well, the stage would likely be reflown for a mission in June 2016.[14]

First stage reflight[edit]

As of December 2016, SpaceX has not attempted a reflight of one of their recovered booster rockets. The first stage of Falcon 9 Flight 23—which transported this CRS-8 Dragon capsule on an orbital trajectory in April 2016—is scheduled to be reflown first,[15] in February 2017.[16][17] Additional tests will be conducted before SpaceX determines the stage's final suitability for reuse on a subsequent launch.[18]

As part of a multi-month multi-vehicle test process to refly Falcon 9 boosters, another first stage of a different launch vehicle — Falcon 9 Flight 24 — was designated a "reference vehicle" for further testing, because it encountered "extreme temperatures during its reentry into Earth atmosphere" in May 2016 from a more energetic GTO trajectory. The Flight 24 first stage has undergone a series of tests, including a 150-second full-duration engine firing which was successfully completed on 28 July 2016.[18]


  1. ^ Foust, Jeff (September 6, 2015). "SpaceX Will Debut Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket on Return to Flight Mission". 
  2. ^ a b "Dragon Splashdown" (Press release). SpaceX. May 11, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Gebhardt, Chris (May 11, 2016). "CRS-8 Dragon completes ISS mission, splashes down in Pacific". NASA Spaceflight. Retrieved May 15, 2016. 
  4. ^ Hartman, Daniel W. (July 2014). "Status of the ISS USOS" (PDF). NASA Advisory Council HEOMD Committee. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "NASA to Test Bigelow Expandable Module on Space Station". NASA. January 16, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ Thomson, Iain (March 14, 2015). "SpaceX to deliver Bigelow blow-up job to ISS astronauts". The Register. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d Drake, Nadia (April 8, 2016). "SpaceX Rocket Makes Spectacular Landing on Drone Ship". National Geographic. Retrieved April 8, 2016. To space and back, in less than nine minutes? Hello, future. 
  8. ^ Bergin, Chris (September 7, 2015). "SpaceX conducts additional Falcon 9 improvements ahead of busy schedule". NASA Spaceflight. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 
  9. ^ de Selding, Peter B. (October 16, 2015). "SpaceX Changes its Falcon 9 Return-to-flight Plans". SpaceNews. Retrieved October 16, 2015. 
  10. ^ Siceloff, Steven (March 18, 2016). "SpaceX-8 Experiments to Cover Habitat, Drug Research". NASA. Retrieved March 19, 2016. 
  11. ^ Krebs, Gunter Dirk (January 16, 2016). "The Flock Earth observing constellation". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved January 22, 2016. 
  12. ^ Dean, James (April 12, 2016). "SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket arrives at Port Canaveral". Florida Today. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  13. ^ Bergin, Chris (April 12, 2016). "Falcon 9 first stage sails into Port Canaveral atop ASDS – ahead of big plans". NASA Spaceflight. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (April 12, 2016). "SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket returns to port". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  15. ^ Henry, Caleb (30 August 2016). "SES Becomes First Reusable Rocket Customer for SpaceX". Via Satellite. 
  16. ^ Clark, Stephen (January 22, 2017). "Launch Schedule". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  17. ^ Peter B. de Selding [pbdes] (28 October 2016). "CFO says SES-10 tentatively set for January launch on SpaceX Falcon 9." (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  18. ^ a b Berger, Eric (2016-07-29). "SpaceX takes another step toward reusability with 150-second engine test". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2016-07-29. 

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