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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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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.


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