SpaceX Launches Private Capsule on Historic Trip to Space Station

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    May 22, 2012 9:26 AM GMT
    Amazing. This really is the dawn of a new age. As people obsess over facebook, Elon Musk makes real advances in pursuing his vision of providing space travel to Mars.

    http://www.space.com/15805-spacex-private-capsule-launches-space-station.html

    A private space capsule called Dragon soared into the predawn sky Tuesday, riding a pillar of flame like its beastly namesake on a history-making trip to the International Space Station.

    The unmanned capsule, built by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), is the first non-governmental spacecraft to launch to the space station, ushering in a new era of partnership between the public and private spaceflight programs.

    "I think this is an example of American entrepreneurship at its best," said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of NASA's commercial crew and cargo program, in a briefing before the launch. About 100 VIP guests were on hand to witness the launch, NASA officials said.

    The Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX launched its Dragon capsule at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) today (May 22) from a pad here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It blasted off atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, a 157-foot (48-meter) booster powered by nine Merlin rocket engines. The space station was flying 249 miles above the North Atlantic Ocean as the rocket lifted off, NASA officials said. [...]

    The spacecraft is due to spend its first day on orbit catching up with the 240-mile high (390 km) space station, where it will rendezvous Thursday (May 24) and perform a fly-by to within 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) to check its navigation systems.

    On Friday (May 25), the capsule is slated to perform a series of maneuvers to approach the station, with crewmembers onboard the outpost issuing commands to Dragon. If the spacecraft passes a set of "go-no go" checks at Mission Control in Houston, NASA will approve the vehicle to approach the International Space Station. From inside, astronauts Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the lab's robotic arm to grab Dragon and berth it to the station's Harmony node.

    The hatches between the two spacecraft are due to be opened early Saturday (May 26), so the crew can enter Dragon and unpack its deliveries.
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    May 22, 2012 12:44 PM GMT
    This is great!
    but in my opinion, it seems space will remain closed till the construction of the space elevator. Going to space it's still too expensive and too inefficient. In the other hand, yes, this flight officially opens the path for non-only-government activities in space. For better and for worse, it's a very important thing
  • groundcombat

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    May 22, 2012 1:16 PM GMT
    I still don't understand the Space X distinction. People keep saying "private," but ULA is certainly a private company and although they launch quite a few defense and other payloads, and they've been launching commercial satillites for years.
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    May 22, 2012 2:11 PM GMT
    If it's private, why did they announce it publicly?
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    May 22, 2012 2:31 PM GMT
    groundcombat saidI still don't understand the Space X distinction. People keep saying "private," but ULA is certainly a private company and although they launch quite a few defense and other payloads, and they've been launching commercial satillites for years.


    I think it's because SpaceX' spacecarft can perform manned spaceflights, and ULA not. So both are private, but SpaceX it's, let's say, more "serious business" for press. The Dragon Capsule can actually put astronauts into space and dock with the ISS. Perhaps this is why many people say "SpaceX is private" like if there weren't other private companies working on space.
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    May 22, 2012 8:20 PM GMT
    The distinction does get a little fuzzy.

    Almost everything NASA has flown was built by private contractors. But it was owned by NASA and built on cost-plus military style contracts, with plenty of engineering provided by NASA. All of ULA's hardware was designed that way.

    SpaceX designs and owns their own hardware and provide a service. Of course, these huge contracts from NASA allow them to do that.
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    May 22, 2012 11:09 PM GMT
    Because SpaceX retains ownership of the underlying assets, it is therefore responsible for maintenance, and can provide contract service to non-NASA entities. It also will have an independent R&D budget that can be deployed to create more efficient spacecraft and modules, in competition with other competitors in the space (no pun intended).

    The difference is critical - the US government dithered on creating a replacement for the shuttle for decades. Many, many millions of wasted taxpayer dollars later, we are in a situation where we'll have to bum a ride off the Russians. SpaceX and other private companies will be able to run their organizations based on the scale of demand, not in service to the arbitrary whims of Luddite politicians.
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    May 23, 2012 1:08 AM GMT
    riddler78 said As people obsess over facebook, Elon Musk makes real advances in pursuing his vision of providing space travel to Mars.


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    May 23, 2012 2:45 AM GMT
    For whatever reason, this new space race seems kind of exciting.
  • spacemagic

    Posts: 520

    May 23, 2012 3:32 AM GMT
    Hopefully this is a sign that we as a people still believe in the dream of space exploration.
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    May 25, 2012 5:55 PM GMT
    Another historic first for SpaceX

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18195772

    The California SpaceX company has seen its unmanned Dragon cargo ship attach successfully to the International Space Station (ISS).

    Astronauts onboard the platform used its robotic arm to grasp the vehicle and attach it to a berthing port.

    Dragon is the first commercial vessel to visit the space station.

    It is also the first American ship to go to the orbiting laboratory since the US space agency (Nasa) retired its shuttles last year.

    US astronaut Don Petit was inside the ISS at the controls of the Canadarm2.

    He reached out with the robotic appendage and grabbed the Dragon capsule at 13:56 GMT (14:56 BST).
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    Jun 01, 2012 6:30 AM GMT
    A successful end to an amazing trip.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18273811?

    Splashdown for SpaceX Dragon spacecraft

    The American SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule has splashed down in the ocean off the California coast. The return to Earth completes a historic first mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by a privately operated vehicle.

    Impact with the water was confirmed at 08:42 Pacific Daylight Time (15:42 GMT; 16:42 BST). Fast boats positioned in the splashdown zone were despatched to recover the unmanned capsule.Dragon came down right on top of its targeted location about 900km (560 miles) from the Baja Peninsula.

    "It's a fantastic day," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and chief designer. "I'm just overwhelmed with joy."The mission was intended as a demonstration of the freight service SpaceX plans to run to the platform. It took half a tonne of food and supplies up to the ISS astronauts, and brought down about two-thirds of a tonne of completed experiments and redundant equipment.

    A successful recovery of the capsule and its contents will trigger a $1.6bn (£1bn; 1.3bn-euro) contract with the US space agency (Nasa) for 12 further re-supply trips.

    "I don't think it's going to take us very long to make the determination that this was an extremely successful mission, and they should be well on their way to starting services," commented Alan Lindenmoyer, who leads Nasa's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (Cots) programme.

    Dragon's fall to Earth was overseen by controllers at SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and at Nasa's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
  • thadjock

    Posts: 2183

    Jun 01, 2012 3:00 PM GMT
    riddler78 saidAmazing. This really is the dawn of a new age. As people obsess over facebook, Elon Musk makes real advances in pursuing his vision of providing space travel to Mars.
    >


    yeah

    mark zuckerberg is wylie coyote and Elon Musk is Road runner.

    MEEP MEEP!!!

    this post paid for and approved by Elon Musk for President.......of the world.