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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,

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RE: Lol, typos.
By delphinus100 on 5/25/2012 8:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
Why use solar panels on short term flight vehicle? It seems like batteries or fuel cells make more sense.

Remember, this isn't a dedicated ISS (or other station) re-supply technology (though Europe's ATV also had solar panels, but Japan's H-II did not), it's essentially a cargo version of what's intended to be a manned spacecraft that may well have fairly long missions one day. (circumlunar and farther)

Also, SpaceX intends to later offer 'Dragon Lab,' a long-term, freely orbiting, recoverable research platforms, for experiments of the user's choice. In that unmanned role, it will need its own power for many months. (Think X-37b for civil use, and minus wings. It likely does similar things for the DoD.)

And remember, Russia's 'Progress,' an unmanned, non-recoverable version of the Soyuz, also for space station re-supply, doesn't dispense with its solar panels, either...

However, Boeing's CST-100 will use only batteries (as Dragon did on its first, three orbit flight). It's only purpose is to get up to a station and dock, and come down at some later time, carrying people both ways. It's basically an orbital taxi. No long-endurance plans at all for that design.

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