Here’s our beautiful blue marble as seen by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on Sept. 22, 2017 from a distance of 106,000 miles (170,000 km). It had just completed a gravity-assist flyby of Earth—a little 19,000 mph “once around the block” that gave the spacecraft an 8,500-mile-an-hour speed boost necessary to adjust its course toward Bennu, the asteroid target of its mission.
Today, January 14, 2017, SpaceX achieved another commercial launch success with the delivery of ten Iridium satellites to orbit—the first of 70 that will comprise the next generation IridiumNext constellation—as well as a new milestone in its ongoing trek toward reusable launch capability: the first successful landing of a Falcon 9 first-stage booster on its Pacific-based autonomous drone ship, Just Read the Instructions.
This morning, at 4:49 a.m. CDT, after 5 days, 16 hours and 5 minutes attached to the International Space Station, SpaceX’s Dragon craft was released and made its return to Earth. It splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 10:42 a.m. CDT, about 530 miles southwest of Los Angeles, off the coast of Baja California. Containing 1,367 lbs of cargo from the ISS, Dragon was picked up by a barge recovery ship operated by American Marine and, as of the time of this writing, is in good condition and is headed to the port of L.A.
It’s the culmination of a truly historic mission — the first time a privately-built and operated spacecraft has docked with the Space Station, it opened the path for many more such missions to come in a new era of commercial spaceflight partnerships with NASA. From launch to splashdown, the mission couldn’t have gone better!
“I almost feel like this was more success than we had a reasonable right to expect. I hope we can repeat it.”
— Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO
Another beautiful image of Earth from the Rosetta spacecraft’s OSIRIS imaging system, showing swirling clouds in an anticyclone over the South Pacific.
The false-color composite is a portion of a larger view of the planet, taken as Rosetta flew by Earth on November 13. It is a combination of image data taken through the orange, blue and green filters.
The video below gives a quick overview of the Rosetta mission, the first ever to attempt to establish orbit around a comet.
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Image: ESA ©2009 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA