SpaceX Dragon CRS-6 and debris pieces, twenty minutes after launch
|Falcon 9, Dragon CRS-6 and 2 debris pieces, 20 minutes after launch|
I watched the live webcast of the launch, and then 20 minutes later I watched the Dragon craft make a pass through Orion low in the West, before entering Earth shadow.
With a pass so low in the west in the evening, I expected it to be faint, but it actually was easily visible by the naked eye reaching mag. +1.5 (about as bright as the brightest stars in Orion, barely fainter than Betelgeuse which it passed close by [edit: but see below...]). It was some 30-45 seconds late on Jon Mikel's estimated initial orbit.
My images show up to three additional, fainter objects (I did not see them visually) close to the Dragon (see image above which shows them al three). These are the two jettisoned solar panel covers, and either the jettisoned nose-cone or the Falcon 9 upper stage (probably the latter). Unlike the Dragon, which is steady, these three objects are irregular in brightness, as they are tumbling.
[edit 15 Apr 10:15 UT: according to Cees Bassa the bright object is actually the Falcon 9 upper stage, the fainter object just above and very close to it the Dragon CRS-6, while the two flaring faint objects upper and bottom are the solar panel covers]
The image below is a stack (combination) of five images taken slightly earlier, showing the
|stack of five 2.5 second images separated by 10 seconds|
Two other single shots from that sequence, showing the debris pieces flashing up alongside the
Dragon and ISS will berth on April 16 and I hope to have some opportunity to observe them close together.
(many thanks to Jon Mikel for his orbital estimate)