“Looks like everything’s good on Dragon,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said during a news conference following the successful launch of the SpaceX-3 cargo mission to the International Space Station. “I’m feeling pretty excited, this is a happy day,” Musk said.
NASA is also pleased with the launch, said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
“They did a lot of good work,” Gerstenmaier said, noting that NASA’s payload team and SpaceX worked inside tight schedules to get everything ready for flight despite significant weather concerns.
“Weather was our primary concern,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Mission Assurance for SpaceX. “It’s a really good day.”
Musk also reported early signs of success in SpaceX’s test to have the first stage of the Falcon 9 reignite its engines and slow the stage to a soft landing on the ocean’s surface a few minutes after liftoff. All data is not in yet, he said, but the slowdown seemed to go well. He does not expect to be able to pick the first stage out of the water, however, because the ocean waves were substantial having been roiled up by days of rough weather. He said the flight encourages him to continue its pursuit of recovering a first stage intact.
“I think we have a decent chance of bringing a stage back this year, which would be wonderful,” Musk said.