Well, the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule attached went of nearly without a hitch on Wednesday. They had to stop the countdown on the first attempt, but the second countdown went off without a hitch. Both stages of the rocket performed nominally (i.e. within parameters), the Dragon capsule detacted successfully and then the Dragon capsule performed 2 orbits 180 miles above the earth, re-entered the atmosphere, deployed the 3 main chutes and splashed down in the Pacific ocean 500 miles off of Southern California. Only 6 countries have ever sent up an object and successfully returned it to earth. This marks the first time that a non-country organization has done this. Awesome.
It was also determined that the Dragon carried two payloads. One was a military nanosatellite for the Army. The other what a big wheel of cheese as an homage to a Monty Python skit.
Despite the Monty Python reference :P, it could be that the next stop for the next SpaceX launch could be the International Space Station. That would be HUGE!
Went out to go to work this morning and it was crystal clear, unlike the non-stop cloudy skies we've had for the past week. So I stared at the sky for a few minutes and managed to catch one going from N to S through the W. I also went out this evening around 7"15pm as there were at least some breaks in the clouds, but it was just too late and there were still quite a few clouds. The moon and mostly clouds were in the W and that's where the satellites are likely to be that late in the evening. Didn't see anything in the E. And since I was constantly facing one direction, it started to get cold... though I truly believed it was going to be much colder than it actually was.
Here's the time-line for morning of:
Date: 09-Dec-2010 Thursday
6:20 AM - Cosmos 2428 Rocket - 2.7 Magnitude
Int'l Designator: 2007-029-B
This is my second sighting of this Zenit-2M rocket body. This is a slightly different rocket than the Zenit-2, though I honestly can't tell you what the difference is. Wikipedia says that there are some modification and upgrades. As far as I can tell from both Wikipedia and Gunter's Space Page, there has only been one launch of a Zenit-2M, though it's odd that they show two separate pictures of the rocket and note that two different companies can launch the Zenit-2M. It looks like maybe they've never launched a true Zenit-2SLB and went straight to the Zenit-3SLB. *shrug* I dunno.
Anyways, this rocket launched Cosmos 2428, a Tselina-2 Russian ELINT satellite.