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SpaceX Dragon launch  (Source: universetoday.com)
The Dragon capsule berthed the ISS' 58-foot robotic Canadarm2 at 12:02 p.m. EDT today

After launching toward the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday, SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule has successfully reached the ISS, becoming the first commercial spacecraft to do so.

Private rocket company SpaceX launched its unmanned Dragon cargo capsule from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:44 a.m. on Tuesday. The Dragon was coupled with a Falcon 9 rocket and is carrying supplies such as food, clothing and science experiments to the ISS.

After leaving Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, the Dragon capsule had to perform a series of tests to prove that it was ready for docking at the ISS. Over the past few days, the Dragon successfully completed the maneuvers, and NASA finally gave SpaceX the green light to dock at the ISS today.

"The International Space Station mission management team completed a thorough review of the progress...and...unanimously authorized the International Space Station and Dragon flight control teams to proceed toward rendezvous and berthing about 11:20 a.m. ET Friday," said NASA.

According to SpaceX, the Dragon detached from the Falcon 9 rocket and deployed its solar arrays successfully. Dragon then orbited the Earth on Tuesday and Wednesday and fired its thrusters to make its way to the ISS.

According to NASA astronaut Don Pettit, the Dragon capsule berthed the ISS' 58-foot robotic Canadarm2 at 12:02 p.m. EDT.

"Houston, Station, it looks like we've got us a Dragon by the tail," said Pettit.

The Dragon's journey toward the ISS is a momentous occasion for American spaceflight. Not only does it mark the first time a private spacecraft has traveled to the ISS, but it also puts the U.S. back on the map when it comes to space adventures.

NASA retired its space shuttle fleet throughout the course of 2011. After putting the Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis spae shuttles to rest, U.S. astronauts could only travel to the ISS via Russian Soyuz spacecrafts. However, the issue here is that the cost per seat on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft is expensive, and is expected to reach $63 million by 2015.

It was clear that the U.S. needed an alternative, and SpaceX was happy to help. The private rocket company built its Dragon to be the first private spacecraft to travel to the ISS, allowing the U.S. to be in charge of its space-related itinerary once again.

SpaceX has had some troubles while planning its ISS trip, such as delays and a recent issue with a check valve that caused a last-minute abort just last week. SpaceX even faced public criticism from American space heroes Neil Armstrong, who was the first astronaut to step foot upon the Moon on Apollo 11, and Gene Cernan, who was the last man to step foot upon the moon on Apollo 17.

Despite these obstacles, SpaceX has prevailed and seems to have a smooth mission to the ISS so far. The Dragon is currently linked up to the ISS and is expected to unload its cargo tomorrow. The Dragon has 674 pounds of food, clothing and other supplies as well as 271 pounds of cargo bags, 46 pounds of science experiments, and 22 pounds of computer equipment.

The Dragon will stay docked at the ISS for two weeks before plunging into the Pacific Ocean. From there, a boat will retrieve the cargo capsule and collect the supplies it brought back from the ISS.

The ISS even captured footage of the Dragon making its way to the weightless station. Below is a video of SpaceX's Dragon making its historic arrival at the ISS:

Sources: ABC, Space.com



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Start of a new chapter
By geddarkstorm on 5/25/2012 4:32:20 PM , Rating: 5
Man, that dragon capsule is gorgeous. What a stellar performance by SpaceX! All that hard work and testing over the years finally reaching the point where it can really start to be used for great things. I can't help but applaud Musk's vision and ultimate goals. A man with a mission backed by brilliant people is a force to be reckoned with.




RE: Start of a new chapter
By fatbaldandhappy on 5/25/2012 5:07:45 PM , Rating: 2
The man has certainly put together an incredible team of people to do what to me and most others, seems impossible.

Now for some competition from Sir Branson to keep the innovation coming and we'll should all be driving the our Jetson mobiles within the year!


RE: Start of a new chapter
By ameriman on 5/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: Start of a new chapter
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2012 1:49:02 AM , Rating: 2
Uhh let's not get TOO carried away. Musk stood on the shoulders of giants, namely NASA, to achieve his breakthrough. All of the R&D was done for him by NASA. All the research was done for him. Everything NASA learned and applied in those 5 decades you refer to as a failure was directly responsible for Musk getting into space.

Gotta give credit where credit is due. What Musk did wouldn't be possible without all of the efforts of NASA in the past. The things we learned, the large funds invested. Hell SpaceX wouldn't have even lifted off without NASA's facilities, radar systems, ect ect. Going into space isn't like firing a model rocket off in your backyard, you know.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By teldar on 5/26/2012 6:39:42 AM , Rating: 2
Uh, let's not get TOO carried away.

Space X over came obstacles NASA said were impossible to do any other way besides the way they had always been done.

To say Musk's teams didn't innovate and invent is as completely idiotic as saying that NASA research and experience didn't contribute anything to the effort.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By Reclaimer77 on 5/26/2012 2:14:06 PM , Rating: 1
Yes I clearly said Musk didn't innovate. You read that right? Umm no.

I was defending NASA and giving him a dose of reality. NOT criticizing SpaceX. Learn to read context!


RE: Start of a new chapter
By Samus on 5/26/2012 7:04:03 PM , Rating: 1
Reclaimer, why don't YOU give credit where credit is due. SpaceX has a rocket design, cargo capsule, and delivery/return system, all far more advanced than anything NASA ever considered. Of course NASA helped, why wouldn't they? But they are also on record saying the dragon capsule recovery system would be impossible to do, and we'll soon find out if it works.

As far as everything else, this SpaceX mission has been a stellar success.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By Reclaimer77 on 5/27/2012 11:10:00 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
all far more advanced than anything NASA ever considered.


These are the kinds of comments I'm talking about. That's just BS!


RE: Start of a new chapter
By highlander2107 on 5/26/2012 8:03:55 PM , Rating: 3
What are you smoking?

"All of the R&D was done for him by NASA. All the research was done for him."

WRONG

"Hell SpaceX wouldn't have even lifted off without NASA's facilities, radar systems"

WRONG

You're too stupid for me to even waste more time on.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By cruisin3style on 5/29/2012 3:39:24 PM , Rating: 2
i guess your next rant will be about who NASA needs to give credit to, for instance: God, the Chinese for discovering gunpowder, Robert Goddard, the Nazis, JFK, the American taxpayer, and male dogs and/or south park...right?


RE: Start of a new chapter
By FaaR on 5/26/2012 3:34:34 PM , Rating: 3
Erm, NASA isn't half the wasteful barrel of pork you erroneously seem to believe it is.

Most of NASAs troubles, now and in the past, stem from short-sighted politicians and presidents who never see further than one term ahead in time, whereas great strides and developments take much longer than that. The Apollo program ate up the lion's share of a decade, but you can't replicate something like that when today's politicians only see four years at most ahead (and often not even that long, for example should the economy take a downturn.)

Also, NASA's share of the federal budget is an absolute pittance. You want to cut waste, look at the monstrously bloated and oversized US military instead.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By Reclaimer77 on 5/25/2012 5:27:16 PM , Rating: 1
I want to agree with you but I feel docking with the Canadian side of ISS was a major fail that tarnished this entire endeavor, a PR misstep, and kind of a slap in the face to all the Americans who made this possible.

Obviously the author didn't fully disclose the Dragon's true manifest. He left out the 4 cases of Ketchup Chips and 12 cases of Labbat Blue!!! Eh?


RE: Start of a new chapter
By Pirks on 5/25/2012 5:38:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I feel docking with the Canadian side of ISS was a major fail
Indeed. Where's my effin USArm2 huh?


RE: Start of a new chapter
By TSS on 5/25/2012 6:13:22 PM , Rating: 2
Haters gonna hate.

It's the international space station. Not the american space station. You're still using russians to ferry people to the ISS, that and NASA's budget are far bigger PR disasters. This is a victory of the private industry in response to a total failure of NASA.

Just be proud and leave it at that for once. Have some damned humility. Otherwise people are just going to laugh that much harder when the only station left to dock your american ships to is the chinese space station.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By Reclaimer77 on 5/25/2012 6:12:41 PM , Rating: 2
LOL grow a sense of humor man. I mean come on. Okay MAYBE you could take the first paragraph as a rant, sure, but the bit about the beer and ketchup chips??? HELLO!! lol


RE: Start of a new chapter
By cruisin3style on 5/29/2012 3:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
if your jokes are the soil/fertilizer, it isn't a surprise that it hasn't grown...


RE: Start of a new chapter
By GotThumbs on 5/25/2012 8:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, but there will ALWAYS be a typical American to muck it up with some lame whining.

What I really like is that Newt's stance all along was to encourage the US private sector to further space travel. Not as funny a concept as many simpleton's thought.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By teldar on 5/26/2012 6:41:44 AM , Rating: 2
You also fail at the sarcasm.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By teldar on 5/26/2012 6:41:45 AM , Rating: 2
You also fail at the sarcasm.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By teldar on 5/26/2012 6:41:04 AM , Rating: 2
Sarcasm.
You are an absolute failure at it.


RE: Start of a new chapter
By FaaR on 5/26/2012 3:37:58 PM , Rating: 2
You however, are not a failure at redundant and double posting... ;)


RE: Start of a new chapter
By WinstonSmith on 5/26/2012 10:42:47 AM , Rating: 2
"Man, that dragon capsule is gorgeous."

Agree, it has that new car smell. And here's the brochure listing standard and optional equipment:

http://www.spacex.com/downloads/dragonlab-datashee...


RE: Start of a new chapter
By geddarkstorm on 5/26/2012 11:57:59 AM , Rating: 2
That has to be one of the coolest things I've read. Seeing a spacecraft data sheet like that, listing off all the perks and specifications to attract customers... I can't wait till there's other craft out there giving heat shield wars, or innovating new thrusters ("The new Draco 3 thrusters are so superior to your silly Titan 2s, that's why I would only ever use a Dragon 4S, pfff"), and generally turning the world of spaceships and their hardware into something truly diverse and competitive.


“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads














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