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SpaceX Dragon capsule  (Source: dailytech.com)
According to NASA, there is a bit of testing where hardware, software and certain procedures are concerned

NASA announced that all is well with SpaceX's Dragon capsule, and that an April 30 flight to the International Space Station (ISS) is possible.

SpaceX, which is expected to be the first private company to send a spacecraft to the ISS, has been preparing its Dragon capsule for the flight. However, it delayed the Dragon's first launch to the ISS, which was set for February 7. The company wanted to conduct more tests before the cargo capsule took off for space.

"Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations. "There is a good chance to make the 30th."

The Dragon capsule will be expected to carry 1,148 pounds of cargo to the ISS, which will consist of supplies needed for the space lab, and will return 1,455 pounds of cargo back to Earth.

The private company's Dragon has become an important part of the future of American space travel. Last year, NASA retired its space shuttle fleet, which U.S. astronauts depended on for delivering supplies to the ISS. Since that retirement, American astronauts have been forced to depend on Russian Soyuz rockets to make their way to the ISS -- and the cost of one seat on the Russian spacecraft is expected to increase to $63 million by 2015.

The U.S. knew it had to find another way to travel to space without depending on Russia. Funding was a major complication, where NASA urged Congress to provide $850 million for commercial crew vehicle development last year.

SpaceX arrived on the scene with its Dragon capsule, which is intended for both manned and unmanned missions. While Musk has been working hard on his Dragon, the spacecraft hasn't had an easy road up to this point. The February delay caused a bit of disappointment, and then American space heroes Neil Armstrong (the first astronaut to step foot upon the Moon on Apollo 11) and Gene Cernan (the last man to step foot upon the moon on Apollo 17) both publicly criticized Musk's inexperience with space-related vehicles. They even said that leaving the future of American space travel to SpaceX could lead to safety issues and cost the taxpayers at some point.

However, the Dragon has prevailed and even passed the first NASA Crew Trial last month. Musk defended his company and his Dragon, saying that the work accomplished until now and the road to the ISS ahead have not been easy.

"I think it is important to appreciate that this is pretty tricky," said Musk. "The public out there, they may not realize that the space station is zooming around the Earth every 90 minutes, and it is going 17,000 miles an hour. So you have got to launch up there and you've got to rendezvous and be backing into the space station within inches really, and this is something that is going 12 times faster than the bullet from an assault fire. So it's hard.

"I think we have got a pretty good shot but it is worth emphasizing that there is a lot that can go wrong on a mission like this."

But Musk said even if the Dragon doesn't succeed the first time, he will try again.

The final announcement regarding whether April 30 is the exact date of launch is expected April 23.

Source: Google



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Sad Irony
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/17/2012 11:39:15 AM , Rating: 5
I find it tragically ironic that Neil Armstrong chose to attack Elon Musk. The man is a real life Tony Stark type and is almost single handedly using his fortune to keep America competitive in the space race. Without him we'd be stuck relying on Russia for transportation/cargo and hoping the SLS program eventually restores us to a fraction of our former capacity.

I was watching a bit of the 60 Minutes with Elon Musk on it:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/elon-musk...

The poor guy was literally almost crying it sounded like when they asked him about Armstrong's rebuke. He just said again, that he was his hero and that he was really sad about it.

But I think anyone with a fraction of care or hope for American spaceflight needs to show Musk some admiration and respect for risking his fortune for American scientific greatness. The man is a hero in my eyes.




RE: Sad Irony
By Motoman on 4/17/2012 12:20:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The man is a real life Tony Stark type


...you mean he's a wildly egomaniacal womanizing alcoholic?

I want that job :(


RE: Sad Irony
By delphinus100 on 4/17/2012 8:40:46 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, as log as you can deliver the tech, you're hired...


RE: Sad Irony
By Chernobyl68 on 4/18/2012 1:31:05 PM , Rating: 2
you mean a "genius, billionaire, playboy-philanthropist?"


RE: Sad Irony
By kattanna on 4/17/2012 12:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I find it tragically ironic that Neil Armstrong chose to attack Elon Musk.


so much this. Even though I have studied our moon shots from someone born mere weeks after apollo 13 came home and from the outside, attacking spacex on possible dangers is pretty silly, IMO. Mercury, Gemini and Apollo were all HIGHLY dangerous. Even more so I would have to say then what spacex is doing because back then it was all brand new, yet they went along with it.

quote:
The poor guy was literally almost crying it sounded like when they asked him about Armstrong's rebuke. He just said again, that he was his hero and that he was really sad about it.


yeah it was hard not to pick up on that. Hopefully.. when proven successful they will go visit spacex and admit they were wrong.


RE: Sad Irony
By aguilpa1 on 4/17/2012 4:33:54 PM , Rating: 3
Armstrong is clearly under alien influence and is being used to dissuade and interfere with human advancement in space travel and technology. (adjusts aluminum foil helmet and blinks)


RE: Sad Irony
By chris24j on 4/17/2012 1:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and while Armstrong is a hero, tragically, I feel that status is misused at times. He is often trotted out now with Cernan and others to support political agenda.
I wish I'd seen this interview. I'm not sure why 60 Minutes felt necessary to quote from someone who is rarely relevant or current on issues of space, rather than someone like Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride, Chang Diaz, and others who have kept active, staying up-to-date and even pushing the envelope at times. Musk can be proud that he has the support of many of these and other astronauts and engineers who are a currrent part molding our future in space.


RE: Sad Irony
By JediJeb on 4/17/2012 10:07:18 PM , Rating: 2
One recent astronaut I really admire that can be added to that list is Story Musgrave. I have seen him on several interviews and he seems to be very open minded and forward thinking. I would love to see him join Musk's group.


RE: Sad Irony
By Plazmid19 on 4/17/2012 1:34:04 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone have good links to the full discussion Neil Armstrong had over this? I would like to learn a lot more, especially about the context of the comments and the tone. All too often do I see things taken way out of context. It's nice to have all of the facts before weighing in.


RE: Sad Irony
By Plazmid19 on 4/17/2012 1:45:27 PM , Rating: 3
Well then,
Google to the rescue.
Here is a link to the Congressional statement presented in 2010, for the 2011 fiscal budget. It is a good read and presents some very good arguments against space commercialization. The chief concern is that NASA is being relegated to a custodian, rather than being a first-rate research entity.

http://marklarson.com/genecernan/House_Hearing_Sta...

I'm sure there is more to be found, but don't rush too quickly to put down Neil's sentiments simply because they run contrary to current opinion. Get the whole story.


RE: Sad Irony
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2012 4:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
There's no "good argument" against the "commercialization of space". By the way, that is such a divisive talking point. What do they even mean? The Government doesn't own space. We shouldn't need Congresses blessing if private citizens like Musk see an opportunity there.

Musk is driven, and has a lot of resources. If we tell him "no", he'll just take his project to some other country. Russia, maybe China, whoever. Then what have we gained? Nothing, but lost a whole hell of a lot.

quote:
The chief concern is that NASA is being relegated to a custodian, rather than being a first-rate research entity.


Oh well I guess we should have thought about that before Obama killed the Space Shuttle before we even had a working alternative. We've ALREADY "relegated" them sadly...

But this concern is largely unwarranted. In pretty much every field, the private sector does the heavy lifting for research and development by a huge margin. Automotive, medial, general sciences, you name it. What would be the harm in space travel and exploration following suit? It's certainly benefited us greatly in the past, and present.

I caught this on Netflix last night and if you're interested really listen to what he's saying. It sounds nuts, but this is how private explorers and men willing to be bold and take risks expanded our civilization and increased our modern day quality of life. Our Government doesn't have the resources or the willpower to accomplish what we need done in space travel. We should be WAY farther ahead than we are today. It's 2012!

http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_stone_explores_the_e...

Skip to 11:00 if you only want the relevant space-related part. But frankly I find the whole thing interesting.


RE: Sad Irony
By delphinus100 on 4/17/2012 9:04:18 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Musk is driven, and has a lot of resources. If we tell him "no", he'll just take his project to some other country. Russia, maybe China, whoever.


First, he doesn't have to. He has pockets deep enough, and if successful with commercial satellite launches of which he has a significant backlog, there will be that revenue stream, as well. Without NASA, SpceX doing manned flight will simply take longer, but it will happen.

Second, you've heard of ITAR, right? That kind of technology would never be allowed to leave the country. Recent events in North Korea only tend to reenforce that concern. I'm sure they're especially hungry right now for anything that might improve their rockets...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Traffic...

quote:
Oh well I guess we should have thought about that before Obama killed the Space Shuttle before we even had a working alternative. We've ALREADY "relegated" them sadly...


(sigh)
"The shuttle's chief purpose over the next several years will be to help finish assembly of the International Space Station. In 2010, the space shuttle, after nearly 30 years of duty, will be retired from service."
— President George W. Bush
January 14, 2004

See the entire text here:

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/54868main_bush_trans.pdf

See and follow along in this video (unfortunately, somewhat edited from the original speech) here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj9pvL-0VrI

The decision was made, long before Obama, the closing down of the supply chain was well underway by his time. We had plenty of time to decide what to do next and set it into motion, but some people just couldn't believe the Shuttle was ending, until it happened. But it was going to happen, whether Obama or McCain was in the driver's seat at the time.

Fortunately, the next steps are finally in motion...assuming Congress doesn't screw with Commercial Crew in order to try to save Orion (which I can live with), and SLS. (which I can't. Delta IV is adequate for Orion to LEO. If you want to go farther, orbital refueling, or docking to a separately launched transfer stage...something demonstrated several times in the Gemini program, setting altitude records not broken until Apollo 8.)


RE: Sad Irony
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2012 9:28:47 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
First, he doesn't have to. He has pockets deep enough, and if successful with commercial satellite launches of which he has a significant backlog, there will be that revenue stream, as well. Without NASA, SpceX doing manned flight will simply take longer, but it will happen.


I think you're underestimating how much SpaceX relies on NASA right now. Musk has, in his own words, $100 million personally wrapped up in SpaceX. Without NASA's facilities, command centers, testing facilities, radar tracking/downrange etc etc you're frankly looking at BILLIONS. SpaceX could possibly be DOA if NASA were to stonewall Musk. The employment alone...shocking. SpaceX has something like 1,500 employees total. I have no idea how many of those are actually involved with launches, but you would need several times more than that to match NASA.

The rest of your post is one long tangent. Doesn't matter what was said before 2008, it happened under his watch so I can blame him. :)


RE: Sad Irony
By Rukkian on 4/18/2012 9:57:02 AM , Rating: 2
I am sure you could find a way to blame Obama for JFK, but that is besides the point.

The shutdown of the shuttle program was planned long before 2009, and imho was overdue. While I think there is some merit to the US continuing space exploration, I think we have more pressing needs right now, and letting it become commercial (with help from NASA) seems like a great way to get it done.

I don't see the goverment as being that efficient or effective at running anything, let alone space. If it had been commercialized (getting the bureaucrats and politicians out of the way) years ago, we may be much further along.


RE: Sad Irony
By MZperX on 4/17/2012 2:19:50 PM , Rating: 3
This. Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan deserve immense respect for their contributions BUT that does not justify or excuse their unwarranted criticism on this venture or in a broader sense the commercial space industry as a whole. If the US is to advance to the next phase of space exploration, there is no place for such elitist views.

I see Elon Musk and all the others involved in serious work advancing commercial space flight as modern day Wright brothers, or Sikorsky, or (insert your choice of famous pioneer of revolutionary new technologies such as Marconi, Ford, Morse, Röntgen, Tesla, etc.) They risk their money and their reputation endeavoring to make thing happen that range from the extremely difficult to the seemingly impossible. The least we can do is recognize them for their efforts. Not all of them will succeed and almost certainly none of them will succeed right away. So, is that a reason to do nothing at all? If all of mankind embraced such backwards thinking, we'd still live in caves dressed in scraps of leather.

NASA rightfully wants to hand over the more "mundane" aspects of ferrying cargo and personnel to LEO to private industry. NASA needs to be in the business of cutting edge space exploration, pushing the envelope and expanding our horizon. NASA needs to focus on developing enabling technologies and architectures that will take us out into the solar system. Let the commercial sector take care of trucking supplies. I am convinced that in the coming decades their contributions, while different in nature, will advance future space flight as much those of the heroes of the Apollo era.


RE: Sad Irony
By WinstonSmith on 4/18/2012 10:21:11 AM , Rating: 2
"The man is a hero in my eyes."

Mine, too!

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1826/1

Excerpt:

"Assuming the Falcon Heavy’s numbers are accurate (the Falcon Heavy will offer approximately twice the performance of the Delta IV Heavy at approximately one third the cost; or, as he helpfully added, six times the value.), the pricing and performance figures offered in Musk’s presentation raise a number of very interesting and, no doubt to some, uncomfortable questions. They also have the potential to completely alter the basis of what currently passes for space policy.

First, the uncomfortable questions. Given the fact that the SpaceX Falcon rockets are not based on any radical technological breakthrough that lowered their costs, one has to ask just how bad a deal has the taxpayer been getting from the Atlas V and Delta IV, products of the legacy aerospace establishment? Soon to be deprived of the hyper-expensive Space Shuttle as their own point of comparison, the answer would appear to be much worse than we ever imagined."


“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads














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