Its First Mission Done, SpaceX Looks to More Private Flights

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    Jun 04, 2012 6:41 PM GMT

    With the success of what amounted to a trial run for the spacecraft — there were only a few minor problems during the mission, which began when the Dragon was launched atop a SpaceX rocket from Florida on May 22 — the company is now poised to begin regular supply missions, with much bigger payloads, to the space station later this year. Since the space shuttle program ended last year, the station has been resupplied by Russian and European spacecraft.

    So far, SpaceX has been the most successful participant in the government’s long-term plan to shift the business of spaceflight to private enterprise, with NASA acting only as managers. The agency’s $1.6 billion contract with the company for 12 supply flights still awaits final approval, but Alan J. Lindenmoyer, NASA’s manager for commercial spaceflight, said at the news conference that he expected the approval to come quickly.

    “We became your customer today,” Mr. Lindenmoyer said.
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    Jun 04, 2012 7:08 PM GMT
    commercial space flights? lol ... be the first gay jock in space... the moon? or Mars? I'll take the moon any time.
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    Jun 04, 2012 8:14 PM GMT
    Now it's only a matter of time before the Jetsons are no longer scifi. icon_biggrin.gif
  • Machina

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    Jun 05, 2012 12:40 AM GMT
    With Space X leading the way, Virgin Galactic not far behind, and now the founding of Planetary Resources... commercial space travel will be a regular occurance in the near future.

    I would really love to go to space... would gladly volunteer just for the experience.
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    Jun 14, 2012 3:03 AM GMT

    An Astronaut’s Thoughts on SpaceX Dragon Success:

    For an astronaut, the import of Dragon’s test flight was twofold. First, it means that NASA can start to fill the 40-ton cargo shortfall it faces at ISS, supplying the six-person outpost with the research and habitation supplies needed for full productivity. Unlike the Russian, European, and Japanese robot cargo ships currently flying, SpaceX’s Dragon can make a round trip. On this first ISS run, it returned about 1400 pounds of cargo safely to Earth. Most was used or obsolete equipment, along with a few pounds of science samples. This return capability, lost with the shuttle’s retirement, is an important plus for Dragon and key to getting the most from space station research.

    Second, it means chances are better that my colleagues might soon be riding to and from the station on a safe, economical spaceship. The SpaceX success brightens the prospects of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, hiring commercial firms to fly US astronauts to ISS. The reusable Dragon is aimed at meeting that need; NASA hopes to have a private astronaut transport ready by 2017. There are many design milestones and test flights still to come, but Dragon shows that NASA may be on the right path to end the necessity of paying $60 million per astronaut to fly to orbit on the Russian Soyuz.

    ISS astronauts were impressed with Dragon as a potential transport ship, finding its roomy interior clean and inviting.