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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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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.


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke














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