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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: good luck
By char2010 on 4/18/2012 9:08:36 PM , Rating: 2
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
By Aries1470 on 4/19/12, Rating: 0
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook














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