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Dragon capsule is on its way to the ISS

After scrubbing its planned launch on May 19 due to a faulty check valve, SpaceX proved its critics wrong this morning by successfully launching the Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule perched atop. The momentous launch took place at 3:44am EST this morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
 
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk -- also known for his ventures with Tesla Motors -- was understandably ecstatic about the success, and expressed his joy on Twitter, stating, “Falcon flew perfectly!! Dragon in orbit, comm locked and solar arrays active!! Feels like a giant weight just came off my back.”
 
With its solar arrays deployed, the Dragon capsule is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) and should dock with the station on Friday.


Artist's rendition of the Dragon space capsule in orbit with its solar arrays deployed [Source: SpaceX]
 
John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, issued this statement on behalf of The White House regarding the launch:
 
Congratulations to the teams at SpaceX and NASA for this morning’s successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting because it represents the potential of a new era in American spaceflight. Partnering with U.S. companies such as SpaceX to provide cargo and eventually crew service to the International Space Station is a cornerstone of the President’s plan for maintaining America’s leadership in space. This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA’s resources to do what NASA does best -- tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human space flight beyond low Earth orbit. I could not be more proud of our NASA and SpaceX scientists and engineers, and I look forward to following this and many more missions like it.
 
This marks the first time that a privately funded mission has made its way to the ISS. Upon successful completion of the mission, SpaceX will secure a lucrative $1.6 billion contract with NASA under which it will make 12 deliveries to the ISS.

Sources: SpaceX, WhiteHouse.gov



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W0000t!
By FaaR on 5/22/2012 8:47:08 AM , Rating: 4
Big gratz to SpaceX, for their huge success! Cake is sure to follow, and not a lie, etc etc. :D

Seriously though. This is a giant leap for mankind, even though we've not really done anything new. It's just proof that private enterprise can take up government slack where it is feasible.

Gov't research and development clears the way, then private actors cost-reduce and commercialize the tech, all to great success. Well, hopefully anyway.

This is excellent news. I was really, really hoping the launch would go well, and it did. *feels happy*




RE: W0000t!
By Jeffk464 on 5/22/2012 8:53:42 AM , Rating: 1
Makes you wonder whats going to happen to all the other near term plans. Boeings capsule on an atlas 5, and the other company whatever their name is. Atlas 5 is still a better design isn't it, its just built by soak the taxpayer government contractors.


RE: W0000t!
By Samus on 5/22/2012 12:33:29 PM , Rating: 2
Although Boeing has solid engineering, they have a reputation for milking our government, as well as not paying much tax on their huge profits.

I'm not saying SpaceX will be any different, but it's nice to have a fresh player in the game.


RE: W0000t!
By delphinus100 on 5/25/2012 8:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
and the other company whatever their name is.


'They' would be Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada...


RE: W0000t!
By MrBlastman on 5/22/12, Rating: 0
RE: W0000t!
By Reclaimer77 on 5/22/2012 10:21:48 AM , Rating: 2
Don't be cynical Blast! Tell us how you really feel :)


RE: W0000t!
By MrBlastman on 5/22/12, Rating: -1
RE: W0000t!
By Pirks on 5/22/12, Rating: -1
RE: W0000t!
By SPOOFE on 5/22/2012 4:45:35 PM , Rating: 2
You got rated down for masturbating in public and calling it "truth". :)


RE: W0000t!
By kattanna on 5/22/2012 10:36:31 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm far more impressed by the stuff that Branson and Carmack


I can agree that what branson is doing with virgin galactic with scaled composites second gen craft is amazing, I was actually at the launch where they earned their astronaut wings those years back, was great.

but carmack? seriously?

http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Ho...

armadillo aerospace nowadays is nothing more then large model rockets sending maybe a camera into "space"

IF spacex can continue to pull off what they are doing, it WILL be a game changer.


RE: W0000t!
By MrBlastman on 5/22/2012 11:01:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
IF spacex can continue to pull off what they are doing, it WILL be a game changer.


I wouldn't say that _until_ they come up with some new, revolutionary ideas of their own _and_ pull them off _without_ government assistance. This is something I think Musk is incapable of.

I do hope I am proven wrong. :)


RE: W0000t!
By danjw1 on 5/22/2012 11:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
They are already getting stuff into space FAR CHEAPER then anyone else can. They want to reuse all parts of the rockets, though they have found it harder then expected to reuse the first stage. So the potential is there to lower the price even more. If you don't see this a significant, then you might want to check out what the Chinese government has to say about the projected costs of the Falcon 9 Heavy. They pewpew it, just like you do. This company is changing the game, if you don't see it, then you aren't looking.


RE: W0000t!
By The Raven on 5/22/2012 11:54:35 AM , Rating: 3
As long as he can do it cheaper than the gov't then I'm loving it. But then again, to do anything cheaper than the gov't is not much of an accomplishment.


RE: W0000t!
By MrBlastman on 5/22/2012 12:06:15 PM , Rating: 2
I'm all for private space programs, they _are_ the future for sure. I'm cynical because of a. Musk's track record with Tesla (pathetic) and b. I'm aware that as soon as his program has an accident (it will at some point) they won't be free from legal repercussions like the Government is.

With Musk's utter inability to make a dime in Tesla, how on Earth will SpaceX be able to shoulder the litigious burden it might face once they do have an accident?

Private business is about making a profit! Musk has never made a profit outside of Paypal and that was a decade ago. His pockets aren't limitless here.

I reiterate that Branson at least is trying to do something different. Sure, his concepts aren't LEO for great length, but it is a different idea. Not the same old... lets pump chemical rockets right up into the sky!

I suppose if we look at SpaceX as a stopgap they are filling that. They'll give NASA some way to get equipment up to the ISS without relying on the Pinkos. ;)

It's sad NASA has been butchered like they have been. Government has red tape where business has lawsuits... ugh.


RE: W0000t!
By SPOOFE on 5/22/2012 4:49:58 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
With Musk's utter inability to make a dime in Tesla, how on Earth will SpaceX be able to shoulder the litigious burden it might face once they do have an accident?

I don't see how the two are related. The man is engaging in multiple projects with multiple levels of success. Are you saying you've never had failures in addition to your successes? Ridiculous.

quote:
I reiterate that Branson at least is trying to do something different.

He wants to send more Justin Timberlakes into space on pleasure cruises. Appealing the the Haves and their ability to spend money the Have-nots can only dream about may be a path to success, but it's certainly not "something different".


RE: W0000t!
By Ringold on 5/22/2012 4:54:49 PM , Rating: 2
To add to your post, they're projects that I don't think rational people would expect to produce good quarterly results. SpaceX investments now I wouldn't think would pay big dividends in Q4 2012, but perhaps big ones in Q1 2017 if it steals some of the commercial launch market share.

I can say this: Whatever Musk's faults, at least he isn't sitting on his money and bouncing between fancy ultra-luxury resorts and mansions the world over. He's doing what I like seeing billionaires do; have fun, and push the envelope forward at the same time for everybody. (Something else for liberals to consider: SpaceX wouldn't exist in a country run by the likes of France's Hollande, as no one would ever accumulate the money necessary to get it started)


RE: W0000t!
By FaaR on 5/22/2012 8:12:45 PM , Rating: 3
France has many billionaires, so you're incorrect there.

Also, almost no billionaires do what Musk is doing, so having a lot of billionaires and hoping they'll engage in cutting-edge R&D for the benefit of humanity is quite simply a self-defeating endeavor. There's no point in striving for such a society, because the average billionaire is much more likely to invest in yachts, mansions and luxury cars and goods for themselves than anything that would further spaceflight, for example.

That's why trickle-down economics is such a dismal, utter failure. Musk is a statistical outlier. Most private enterprising is not created by extremely rich people sinking their own personal fortunes into a new venture. Sad, but true.


RE: W0000t!
By Reclaimer77 on 5/22/2012 8:29:10 PM , Rating: 2
You're so wrong it's not even funny. Trickle down a failure? Private enterprising not created by rich people using venture capital?

Idiot. Venture capitalists are quite literally the glue that holds innovation and invention together. They don't just invest capital, but put inventors and innovators in collaboration with the market and technical expertise to bring products forth successfully.

You're also an idiot because Musk isn't doing this to "benefit mankind". He's doing this for profit. He saw an opportunity where he could fill a much needed demand and capitalized on it. He's a businessman, hello?


RE: W0000t!
By ZmaxDP on 5/23/2012 6:22:07 PM , Rating: 1
He's also missing the fact that mansions, yachts, hotels, Gucci bags, and every other goods or services purchased by them ARE EMPLOYING PEOPLE WITH LESS MEANS.

It just makes me LIVID when people bitch about the rich spending money as if it is rude or wasteful. PLEASE SPEND MONEY. It employs people so they don't get freakin' fired.

</rant>


RE: W0000t!
By Visual on 5/23/2012 7:59:54 AM , Rating: 2
Well I think you are not viewing this quite fairly.
SpaceX is not just counting on "grants", instead they have a good deal of cash from "contracts", even if a lot of them come from NASA/the government and are payed up front... there is still a difference. It is money for services that SpaceX will eventually perform.

And while I can understand concerns about such types of contracts in the event that SpaceX just suck up the cash then declare failure and inability to perform their part, my impression for Elon Musk is that he really wants to succeed in this. It may be a bit like a foolish boy's dream, but the good part of that is at least he will give everything trying to achieve it.

Also, so far SpaceX is doing quite great, I see no reasons for concern... if their docking attempt doesn't bring down the space station tomorrow :p

BTW, I also think Tesla is doing quite great, what's your gripe with it? Yeah, they didn't get an electric car into every man's garage overnight, but they seem to be doing ok. Hell, until recently they were the only ones even trying. You gotta respect that.


RE: W0000t!
By JediJeb on 5/22/2012 11:57:43 AM , Rating: 2
I think SpaceX has done one of the things I had hopped would happen, and that is taking tech that NASA had developed and was good engineering work yet mothballed, and updating it and making it useful again. NASA and other government agencies have a tendency of making something that is really innovative and works well and then discarding it just to introduce the next new shiny thing they are working on even though the old stuff is still good. The only thing I have not seen them completely ignore has been the Hubble Space Telescope. But if the Webb Telescope had been finished already you can bet that Hubble would have been de-orbited already even though it is still producing valuable results.


RE: W0000t!
By MrBlastman on 5/22/2012 12:08:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
NASA and other government agencies have a tendency of making something that is really innovative and works well and then discarding it just to introduce the next new shiny thing they are working on even though the old stuff is still good.


Sure but the quantity of good stuff that has come out of NASA is incredible. I'm with you on taking shelved ideas, they do a lot of that and if people can do that, great.

What I'm worried here is people won't be compelled to push the limits and find new paradigms to challenge.


RE: W0000t!
By SPOOFE on 5/22/2012 4:52:09 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
What I'm worried here is people won't be compelled to push the limits and find new paradigms to challenge.

But that's what NASA has become. It's a bloated bureacracy that spends too much of its budget playing politics, and SpaceX has managed to render the outdated "let's pretend it's still 1969" mentality obsolete.


RE: W0000t!
By delphinus100 on 5/25/2012 8:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
Better mousetrap.

Radically new things may well be in their future, but sometimes success is simply being better and/or cheaper at a known product or service.

"It's nice to be first. The money is in being second."
- Larry Bell, aerospace engineer


RE: W0000t!
By MZperX on 5/22/2012 11:49:44 AM , Rating: 4
That's like saying Ford created nothing of value with the T-model. Taking something rare and extraordinary (which the automobile was at the time) and finding a way to commercialize and mass produce it is far from being a trivial task. All the ingredients, in a theoretical and practical sense, were in existence before Ford started his production. He was the first though, to put it all together in an organized system that enabled consistent, fast, and affordable production of the automobile. The definition of innovation IMO isn't as narrow as to cover only revolutionary leaps in technology. It also applies to process improvements and cost reduction.

This is what we need for access to space, and that's exactly what SpaceX and its competitors are doing. Whichever company does it best will ultimately prevail. Those of us on the sidelines, who stand to benefit from their efforts in the long run, should wish them all best of luck.

Congratulations to SpaceX! Here's hoping for safe berthing to the ISS and an overall successful mission.


RE: W0000t!
By kattanna on 5/22/2012 11:53:47 AM , Rating: 2
*claps*


RE: W0000t!
By geddarkstorm on 5/22/2012 1:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely true. SpaceX promises launch costs at a fraction per pound of current available options. That's huge, and opens the door for a lot more people to jump into space. The cheaper we make it, the more companies can start sending things and individuals up. And then the system begins to take on momentum of its own.

Hopefully this launch here marks the beginning of something really excellent.


RE: W0000t!
By kwrzesien on 5/22/2012 2:30:03 PM , Rating: 2
Huge kudos to SpaceX!

I think the real breakthrough came for me on Saturday morning, to see the Falcon fire it's engines and then shut them down when it didn't like a pressure reading. THAT is something I have never seen before, and it makes all the difference in the world if you want to launch a lot of these and still be failure-free. That's the difference that commercialization brings, it's like taking Wilbur Wright's flyer and making a real airplane that can start, stop and takeoff at will.


RE: W0000t!
By kwrzesien on 5/22/2012 2:32:45 PM , Rating: 2
And the only *fail* I saw Saturday was CNN's coverage of the no-launch later that morning. The anchor called it a failure and then didn't elaborate at all, or mention that it was a test launch, or that they would try again Tuesday. Complete context and content fail, which explains why I just don't bother to watch them anymore.


RE: W0000t!
By The Raven on 5/22/2012 11:56:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's just proof that private enterprise can take up government slack
Let's not but the cart before the horse now.


RE: W0000t!
By Ringold on 5/22/2012 4:45:05 PM , Rating: 2
Left off the rest of his sentence, a rather important part. I know the idea that private enterprise can wring more efficiency out of processes and capital (both physical and human) is like dividing by zero for some folks. :P


RE: W0000t!
By ameriman on 5/24/2012 10:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
Gov't research and development clears the way, then private actors cost-reduce and commercialize the tech, all to great success.
============
LOL... not hardly....

What SpaceX has done, created is far advanced from anything pork driven, bloated, red-tape bound NASA is capable of..

SpaceX is teaching NASA, not the other way around..

If NASA knew squat, it would have failed so miserably at creating it's own boosters/capsule with the $20 billion failed Constellation.


Lol, typos.
By SongEmu on 5/22/2012 8:36:37 AM , Rating: 2
"With its solar rays deployed, the Dragon..."

Unless this SpaceX is all like PEWPEW, I'm Firin Mah LAZERS!, I'm pretty sure it should be solar arrays.

#corrections




RE: Lol, typos.
By Jeffk464 on 5/22/2012 8:50:19 AM , Rating: 2
Why use solar panels on short term flight vehicle? It seems like batteries or fuel cells make more sense.


RE: Lol, typos.
By nafhan on 5/22/2012 9:19:41 AM , Rating: 2
It probably makes more sense to just use a standard configuration, and the solar panels are part of that standard configuration. If they had both a battery and a solar version, it's possible one of them would be less reliable and/or more expensive.

Also, how long does something need to be in space for solar panels to make more sense than a battery? I don't know... However, it sounds like this is going to be a five day mission.


RE: Lol, typos.
By Reclaimer77 on 5/22/2012 9:31:19 AM , Rating: 4
It's part of the new Tesla Quick Charge (tm) technology! The Dragon will lower down power plugs to all 20 Tesla owners and orbit between the Earth and the Sun. The solar panels should decrease charging times by a whopping 37.5%!!


RE: Lol, typos.
By nafhan on 5/22/2012 2:52:38 PM , Rating: 2
I know you're joking, but I would somehow find the money to buy that system if it existed :)


RE: Lol, typos.
By JKflipflop98 on 5/22/2012 10:07:14 AM , Rating: 2
That, or they're just testing things out.


RE: Lol, typos.
By kattanna on 5/22/2012 10:27:57 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Why use solar panels on short term flight vehicle?


solar panels provide a good weight to power ratio which it needs for its 3 day flight to the station, and to continue to poweer itself while docked for 3 weeks at the station, and then for its return flight back carry experiments back to earth.

batteries to contain that much power for the many weeks needed would be VERY heavy, or it would then be a drain on the station while docked, and thats if there is even a method of sending power to something docked.

so solar panels make very good sense here.


RE: Lol, typos.
By kattanna on 5/22/2012 11:58:46 AM , Rating: 2
also remember.. they are wanting to make this man rated someday, sooner rather then later, so there might be full environmental gear on board that needs continuous power

solely for testing right now.. but its the best time to do such tests.


RE: Lol, typos.
By Etsp on 5/22/2012 10:37:18 AM , Rating: 2
Probably weight was the deciding factor here.

The weight of the amount of batteries/fuel cells required to power the vehicle for the duration of its mission, with redundancy in case of problems, compared to the weight of smaller batteries and solar panels, (with a redundant solar panel) the solar panel solution was lighter.

Not to mention, fuel cells are a relatively new technology, I think it's unlikely that NASA feels the technology has been tested enough to be used for critical components in space.


RE: Lol, typos.
By JediJeb on 5/22/2012 11:43:13 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not to mention, fuel cells are a relatively new technology, I think it's unlikely that NASA feels the technology has been tested enough to be used for critical components in space.


Fuel cells were used on the Apollo missions, so I doubt they are too new a technology to be using here. It was a fuel cell oxygen tank malfunction that scuttled Apollo 13.


RE: Lol, typos.
By StormyKnight on 5/22/2012 11:26:50 PM , Rating: 2
They were used in project Gemini and the Space Shuttle. Fuel cell chemistry was discovered in the early 1800s. It is not a new or unproven technology.


RE: Lol, typos.
By JediJeb on 5/22/2012 11:40:19 AM , Rating: 2
What weighs more, solar panels, batteries, or fuel cells? I would imagine there are at least batteries and solar panels since you need power to open the solar panels.


RE: Lol, typos.
By The Raven on 5/22/2012 11:47:42 AM , Rating: 2
Batteries? Fuel cells? What you are forgetting is that in a state of zero Gs, all you have to do is roll your window down and start paddling with a wooden oar. They feel so light up there don't you know.


RE: Lol, typos.
By delphinus100 on 5/25/2012 8:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why use solar panels on short term flight vehicle? It seems like batteries or fuel cells make more sense.


Remember, this isn't a dedicated ISS (or other station) re-supply technology (though Europe's ATV also had solar panels, but Japan's H-II did not), it's essentially a cargo version of what's intended to be a manned spacecraft that may well have fairly long missions one day. (circumlunar and farther)

Also, SpaceX intends to later offer 'Dragon Lab,' a long-term, freely orbiting, recoverable research platforms, for experiments of the user's choice. In that unmanned role, it will need its own power for many months. (Think X-37b for civil use, and minus wings. It likely does similar things for the DoD.)

And remember, Russia's 'Progress,' an unmanned, non-recoverable version of the Soyuz, also for space station re-supply, doesn't dispense with its solar panels, either...

However, Boeing's CST-100 will use only batteries (as Dragon did on its first, three orbit flight). It's only purpose is to get up to a station and dock, and come down at some later time, carrying people both ways. It's basically an orbital taxi. No long-endurance plans at all for that design.


Quick
By ViroMan on 5/22/2012 4:49:48 AM , Rating: 2
... make your wish before someone else wishes upon shenron.




RE: Quick
By stardude692001 on 5/22/12, Rating: -1
RE: Quick
By stardude692001 on 5/22/12, Rating: 0
RE: Quick
By ppardee on 5/22/2012 1:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
I created the most comfortable pair of underwear a few years ago. Ruined my life... Spent all day reveling in how comfortable my bottom was and didn't get any work done. I lost my job, my wife, my house... Be careful what you wish for.

I'm also thinking that Zombie Einstein would not be a great idea either...


RE: Quick
By ViroMan on 5/22/2012 4:45:42 PM , Rating: 2
Why not... I think he would be relatively better then other zombies.


Cart - horse, or unhatched chickens
By rttrek on 5/22/2012 1:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This marks the first time that a privately funded mission has made its way to the ISS.

Whoa, let's not get ahead of ourselves! There are still 3 days to go, plus unmanned docking. Then return, reentry, splashdown and recovery too.




"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken














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