NASA: SpaceX Dragon Expected to Leave for ISS on April 30
April 17, 2012 10:22 AM
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SpaceX Dragon capsule
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
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.
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RE: good luck
4/18/2012 9:08:36 PM
I just have to say how refreshing it is to find an intelligent conversation on both sides of the Nasa issue. I almost forgot I was on the internet. Thanks to Solandri, StevoLincolnite and the rest of the writers!
I loved the Shuttle as much as anyone, but, in the end, I would have to say it was a drag on Nasa's budget and human resources. It was kind of akin to Nasa running a cargo airline (FedNasa?), repeatedly ferrying stuff up, at a cost of over $450 million a launch, to the Space Station (ISS). I frankly got sick of astronauts sitting up there in ISS for months growing crystals, or watching how bees fly in "microgravity" or floating their food into their mouths or whatever. It was all good science but we have not seen seen any true advancement in MANNED EXPLORATION since the Apollo moon program which ended almost FORTY years ago! In fact, we couldn't even duplicate the moon landing anytime soon.
Nasa flew astronauts 250 THOUSAND miles to the moon six times. The farthest our astronauts have been from Earth since has been about 500 miles. That''s right. The Moon is over 500 times farther away than the ISS. Forty years ago Nasa made going to the moon look almost routine over the six landings. The TV networks didn't even have live coverage of the later launches.
I'm old enough to remember the glory years of Nasa and I really think that's where Nasa belongs. On the frontier, going new places, doing amazing things. Their best space science lately has really been done by the Hubble Space Telescope and the various space and planetary probes. All unmanned.
We need revolutionary propulsion technologies to reduce trip times between the planets if we are to ever seriously consider manned exploration. A trip to Mars with present technologies would probably involve 3-5 crew living in a small cramped space for 3 years for an on-the-ground exploration time of around 6 months. Imagine the psychological testing we'd have to do on potential crew! Like, first question would be "Why on Earth would you want to DO this? Are you CRAZY? Imagine travelling for over a year, in a vehicle smaller than a school bus, to get to an essentially airless desert. Then tramping around for a few months before your over one year long return."
For a truly useful purpose for Nasa, how about missions to asteroids to test methods of deflecting them so when we eventually find one that is a threat to civilization on Earth we can do something about it.
Repeatedly flying the same design since 1981 to the same low earth orbit is not a lot of progress in over 30 years of manned flight. Nasa had to get rid of the shuttle in order to advance.
RE: good luck
4/19/2012 10:43:05 AM
Great conversations. It has been kept civilised :-)
May I add, as an Aussie, that I have some differing views.
1st. Australia WAS INVADED. Example, Darwin, and south of it, its airfields too, some 100 Km further south.
2nd. NOT A WELL KNOWN FACT, IT WAS INVADED BY THE JAPS!!! Some did not know the war was over, and were living off the land. My father that was stationed in Darwin with the RAAF in the 1960's mentioned to me that they had found some Jap's in the outback! I can't remember when though.
3rd. Yes, I agree that many Asian countries suffered from the Jap's and would not really like them too much to become independant - military wise. They have sent though their military overseas recently, for humanitarian purposes.
4th. Agree that the Nazi's (as the Germans were called) were somewhat more 'humaine' compared to the 'nippo's' (as the Japanese were more commonly reffered to back then). A German soldier if he seen you treating badly your horse/ donkey and overfilling it carriage, would repramand you, unsaddle the horse and force you to try and pull it! Actual fact in northern Greece, as told to me by my grand-mother and other people. The Italians were more 'softer' and easier to 'fool' and have your way. On the other hand, the 'nippo's', Japanese, would use the knife on the edge of their long rifle, and stab a baby and toss it in the air, as witnessed by my wifes grandmother, for no other reason, that it was crying! and the company of soldiers laughing and if anyone spoke or did anything there where repurcussions. At least the Germans retaliated when their men were attacked, but also went overboard, like killing all the males of a village.
On both sides, rape was also common.
Now, I hope we can leave that debacle to rest.
5th. The way I see Australia now, is that it is a
Way to much 'political correctness' of which has gone way out of control. We could have had our OWN Space Program and Launching facilities... way back from the late 1980's mid 1990's. To much 'greenie' involvement... Great Barrier Reef is dying, what excuse do they have now? They can't blame it on a proposed launch site anymore. It would have been way in the north of Queensland, and would be but one of a handful of facilities at that equatorial location and hence would have been having income just from launches. Another location being the one that the French use in the Pacific.
Also, another fact about the stupidness of political correctness gone insane, I seen on tv today (19/04/2012) that in the States, a 5/6 yo was handcuffed! Well, for all those that opposed, I say go vote our governments and law makers out!
1st. Parents are not allowed to discipline or restrain their children, since it is against the law; they would go to jail and get fined.
2nd. Teachers are not allowed to lay a finger on our children; they will also go to jail and get fined if they do.
So what is the last option? The police have to step in and restrain the kid! Just research it, since it is off-topic in this thread, but just making a point about political correctness and greenies etc. going overboard!
Australia as a military force is stretched VERY THINLY as it is. Anyone thinking elsewise is delusional!
Australia is MASSIVE; if we had an invasion from Indonesia there is no way for us to stop them, or even China!
Where are our anti-missile defences, our coastal defences etc.?
Where are our oceanic microphones to track the Subs around our shores?
Now the thing we should do, is use the U.S. Bases we have here, and tell our Government to change the agreement we have to be getting the information from the eaves dropping complexes we have here to be streaming to us concurrently... but that is a pipe dream, instead we depend on the 'Good Will' (don't get me wrong) of the U.S. to 'spoon feed us' security information that may be relevant for us.
Australia is massive, with a very small populace, and a huge shore line. There is no concrete way of defending it.
We need new aircraft, not just F/A-18's... and the future F-35, we need a few different kinds of them too.
Just look at our neighbours what they are buying.
We have also China on the move, that is tending to become aggressive to its neighbours and wants the Spratly group, of which
, I see a portion belonging to the Philippines, some to Vietnam, and maybe Malaysia / Brunei in the south. Both China and Taiwan are way too far to have a legitimate claim, as per international current conventions. They are trying to use history for their claims. If that is the case, Greece should have from land masses belonging to it from Spain to the west up to, and inclusive the Yunnan province of China! (of which by the way, “Yunnan” means Greek in many other civilisation spanning from modern day Turkey and at least up to Afghanistan, need more info, Researching is your friend). The Chinese have reburied finding of Greek civilisation that where found by German archaeologists there! Oh yeah, and parts of India and Sri-Lanka too!
The only reason they want that region is due to huge Oil reserves and other things. Oil has been a reason for war on many occasions.
Now back to space. Nasa should have still gone with their plan B, of which was if the Soviets reached the Moon first, they were to land on an asteroid that orbits Earth. Then they would have had the 'know-how' and the mining boom would have gone already to space by now and we would have reached commercialisation of space a long time ago and also be on Mars and its moons and in the asteroid belt and maybe even beyond.
As for propulsion, nuclear reactors would have been common and small in size. Why heck, even a nuclear powered car was proposed in the late 1950's.
Australia would have benefited from this too, since we are one of the largest producers of nuclear ore, and space engine research would have advanced way quicker, since the corporations would have loved their transporters to be quicker. Following that, automation would have developed at an accelerated pace, spaceship engineering and shielding and our earth’s resources would not have been mined as much and the pollution would have been less, since the engine advancements would have benefitted cars too and energy production and the environment in general. Then the population debate would have lessened due to colonization.
As for the nuclear disposing debacle, we would have found a way of recycling it by now or de-contaminating it! Or maybe just send shipments to the Sun for disposal!, or maybe some other way that has not yet been invented.
Anyway, none of these happened, so we are stuck with what we have today.
A private sector company trying to do what should have been allowed way back in the late 1960's early 1970's!
Btw, sorry for my grammar mistakes.
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