Sunday Cygnus, Falcon, Proton

Sunday was a big spaceflight day. First, the commercial Cygnus spacecraft (which was launched from Wallops Island, VA on the 18th by an Antares rocket just like the one I watched in April) docked with the space station on a demo resupply mission for NASA. I got up early in the morning to try and photograph the two spacecraft as they orbited over our area but only saw the bright dot of the ISS; Cygnus was too dim to be seen through the light pollution of the DC area.

ISS flyover, 2013-09-29

Cygnus was there, and approaching the station for an eventual grapple by the robotic Canadarm, which then pulled in the spacecraft and berthed it to the Harmony Module. Thus did Cygnus successfully show NASA its ability to rendezvous with and deliver cargo to the ISS.

Later at noon, SpaceX launched the first upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying the Canadian CASSIOPE satellite.

Then at 5PM, ILS launched a Proton rocket from Baikonur, the first launch of a Proton since the explosive crash in July (apparently caused by incorrectly installed sensors). This return to flight was flawless.

Lots to follow for space fans like myself that day. Hopefully in the future, days like this become routine as humanity expands past our planet.