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SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule in the Pacific Ocean   (Source: Michael Altenhofen)
SpaceX will now look forward to hearing from NASA about 12 additional missions to the ISS

SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule has successfully completed its first trip to the International Space Station (ISS) with a splash in the Pacific Ocean.

"Welcome home, baby," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO. "It's like seeing your kid come home."

SpaceX is now the first private rocket company to send a spacecraft to the ISS since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year, leaving U.S. astronauts to depend on Russia when it came to space transportation.

After the space shuttle fleet's retirement, SpaceX stepped in with its Dragon cargo capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to lift supplies to the ISS. After a few delays throughout the first few months of this year, the Dragon made its way to the ISS at 3:44 a.m. on May 22. It launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida along with the Falcon 9 rocket with intentions of delivering supplies to the ISS. 

On May 25, the Dragon finally made it to the ISS after passing a series of tests. The Dragon attached to the ISS at 12:02 p.m. that day.

From there, the Dragon delivered 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 to the ISS.

Today, the Dragon made its way home after detaching from the ISS' robotic arm at 2:29 a.m. PDT. Five hours later, the Dragon used its thrusters to begin slowing down while at 240 miles above the Indian Ocean. At 7:51 a.m. PDT, SpaceX engineers confirmed the beginning of the deorbit burn.

The Dragon then slowly fell out of orbit due to the change in velocity from the burn. It finally splashed down into the Pacific Ocean several hundred miles off the coast of Baja California at 8:42 a.m. PDT. The capsule was recovered by boats and brought to the port of Los Angeles.

From launch to the splashdown, SpaceX's Dragon mission lasted 9 days, 7 hours and 58 minutes.

With the Dragon mission being a success, SpaceX will now look forward to hearing from NASA about 12 additional missions to the ISS. While these missions will be unmanned and sent for the purpose of re-supplying the ISS, SpaceX is currently working on a manned version for carrying astronauts.

This isn't SpaceX's only win of the week. Just yesterday, it was announced that SpaceX and satellite service provider Intelsat reached a commercial agreement for the launch of a Heavy Falcon rocket. The Heavy Falcon is a powerful rocket that represents SpaceX's entry into the heavy lift launch vehicle arena. The Falcon Heavy rocket can carry satellites and other spacecraft weighing over 53 metric tons to Low Earth Orbit.

Source: SlashGear

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RE: How Much Money is NASA Saving?
By ameriman on 6/1/2012 12:57:46 PM , Rating: 2
The entire 12 COTS resupply flights cost about what ONE SINGLE Shuttle supply flight cost ($1.5 billion)...
The SpaceX vehicles are far more advanced and cost efficient than anything NASA is capable of.
And the new SpaceX Falcon Heavy will cost only $100 million yet launch TWICE the shuttle payload to orbit..

BTW...SLS/Orion is more unneeded, shameless earmarked Congressional pork, targeted to big space shuttle legacy profiteers.
from a Fed Govt already bankrupting us with $16 trillion of debt...

We should be using the advanced, economical SpaceX boosters, dragon and on-orbit assembly/fueling for deep space missions...

RE: How Much Money is NASA Saving?
By geddarkstorm on 6/1/2012 1:45:58 PM , Rating: 2
It's fantastic we have this for 1/10th the cost. But dragon doesn't lift quite as much supplies as a Shuttle. Be interesting to see the exact cost per kg cargo between the two.

With that said, the real comparison for SpaceX would be between its costs and the ULA.

RE: How Much Money is NASA Saving?
By FPP on 6/1/2012 9:41:23 PM , Rating: 3
That's a good question and remember that it's only Spacex who's offered up flat rate launch price of $142 million. (payload extra)The ULA, essentially a monopoly, does not quote open prices for a launch. In addition, the ULA does not have a rocket they can "pre-fire" and/or "hold-on-fire for integrity check" like Spacex. Musk was smart: he studied launches and concluded it's reliablity, not cost, that will sell launches. He's one of the big boys now.

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