SpaceX's Dragon Reaches Pacific Ocean, Ends Successful ISS Journey
May 31, 2012 7:33 PM
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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.
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RE: How Much Money is NASA Saving?
6/1/2012 1:01:37 PM
I also view NASA as a bid government entity that has a lot of bloat and associated costs, sort of quasi-military, and we all know how much the military likes to spend vast sums of money. I wonder what a consortium of private entities would have produced for the same NASA dollars given contracts for the same missions as NASA.
The one takeaway I have from NASA as a large government organization is at least they have a mission to push their technology developments back to the public.
RE: How Much Money is NASA Saving?
6/1/2012 6:01:12 PM
I think that would totally depend on which private entities were doing it. If it was the usual suspects (typical military/gov't private entities that we can all name) the cost would somehow end up being the same or more. If it was made up of the new boys on the block then it would be substantially less. But congress would never let the "old boys" not share in the largess and would make it rain like a newly signed rookie quarterback at the local strip club. So, while the old boy network is being paid to not really do anything the upstarts would actually put a crew on Mars.
"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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