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SpaceX's first official cargo run launch  (Source: gannett-cdn.com)
Dragon is expected to reach the ISS this Wednesday, and will return to Earth in late October

SpaceX made another historical climb to the International Space Station (ISS), marking its first official cargo run as part of its contract with NASA.  
 
SpaceX's unmanned Dragon capsule launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday, Oct. 7 at 8:35 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Dragon is carrying 882 pounds of cargo, including important scientific experiments. It will return with twice as much cargo, making the Dragon a unique spacecraft considering many Russian, Japanese and European cargo ships are destroyed upon re-entry and cannot return cargo from the ISS. Even Russian Soyuz rockets are too small to carry anything other than astronauts.
 
The launch was declared a success, despite troubles with one of the Falcon 9's nine first-stage engines during ascent to orbit. The other eight engines compensated for the failing unit, allowing Dragon to travel into space.
 
Dragon is expected to reach the ISS this Wednesday, and will return to Earth in late October. During its time at the ISS, cargo will be unloaded and reloaded. 
 
SpaceX stepped in with new methods for American space transport after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet throughout 2011. This retirement left American astronauts with no way of their own to the ISS, with the exception of catching a pricey ride aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. NASA turned to the private sector, where SpaceX offered its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. 
 
In May of this year, SpaceX launched Dragon and Falcon 9 to the ISS for the first time. It made a successful cargo run, which ended with the Dragon plunging safely into the Pacific Ocean. 
 
After that run, NASA and SpaceX signed a $1.6 billion contract, which allows SpaceX to make 12 total cargo runs to the ISS through 2015. Yesterday's launch marks the first of the 12. 
 
"Just over one year after the retirement of the space shuttle, we have returned space station cargo resupply missions to U.S. soil and are bringing the jobs associated with this work back to America," said Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator. "The SpaceX launch tonight marks the official start of commercial resupply missions by American companies operating out of U.S. spaceports like the one right here in Florida." 
 
Bolden also added that "nonbelievers," who previously said SpaceX and other private companies couldn't pull this off, can see this successful launch as an excuse to get behind SpaceX. 
 
Beyond the 12 cargo runs, SpaceX is also working on spaceships capable of carrying astronauts to the ISS. The company is looking to create a manned version of the Dragon, which is expected to transport astronauts starting somewhere between 2015 and 2017.
 
SpaceX's next cargo run will take place in January. 

Source: Fox News



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RE: Space missions
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/8/2012 7:22:06 PM , Rating: 3
I just can't believe people were against private companies doing the heavy lifting to space. If they can do he same job as safely and cheaper than NASA, then more power to 'em.

Let NASA handle the large-scale manned missions, and let the private sector handle the Walmart runs for supplies.


RE: Space missions
By Reclaimer77 on 10/8/2012 7:49:02 PM , Rating: 3
What I can't believe is people don't get that our space program was ALWAYS done by the private sector.

From day one our space program was designed, researched, and built by the private sector. The Government contracted out to private contractors for EVERYTHING. The Government didn't do ANYTHING. They wouldn't even have the money to contract the work if it wasn't for, one guess, the private sector!


RE: Space missions
By wordsworm on 10/8/2012 9:03:19 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I'm sure we can thank Obama for investing your tax dollars into SpaceX.


RE: Space missions
By Ringold on 10/8/2012 9:41:51 PM , Rating: 1
If I understand it right, the government used to take a much more powerful role in design and specifications, whereas this is more NASA giving a goal, like delivering x pounds to the ISS, and supporting and paying anyone that can deliver the service, freeing SpaceX to achieve the goal however it wanted.

The old way involved more political decisions, like work getting done in certain districts, etc, too.

I might have the characterization wrong; if so, someone feel free to elaborate, I'd be curious. But Rec's definitely right, just saw an ad the other day from LockMart bragging about its role in Gemini, the moon shot, etc.


RE: Space missions
By Samus on 10/8/2012 11:46:12 PM , Rating: 3
Well, government contracts are pretty sweet. Definately pay better than ol' SpaceX is willing to sub out, and that was the problem.

Look at Halliburton for example. They were charging the military $60 for a can of spaghetti o's. Just one of many reasons why it cost $1 million per soldier per year deployed to Iraq. That soldier made maybe $40,000 for that tour, and the rest weren't just fuel costs...and for that cool 1 mil, they initially didn't even get proper body armor!


RE: Space missions
By gamerk2 on 10/9/2012 9:16:08 AM , Rating: 2
Heck, look at Huston and its selection as the choice for the MCC. It was picked because LBJ was a native Texan, as was Albert Thomas, head of the House Appropriations Committee. Hence why despite most of the Space Task Group being from the Northeast, a southern location was chosen for the Mission Control.

NASA was most successful when they had an objective, and near unlimited political support. The Saturn V was developed, built, and tested in just under 5 years (!), and we went from having no space capsule to landing on the moon in just 8 (!!!).

So yeah, NASA, like all agencies, are good when they have very focused objectives. Management is key, and most organizations fail due to faulty management.


RE: Space missions
By kattanna on 10/9/2012 10:42:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If I understand it right, the government used to take a much more powerful role in design and specifications, whereas this is more NASA giving a goal, like delivering x pounds to the ISS, and supporting and paying anyone that can deliver the service, freeing SpaceX to achieve the goal however it wanted


correct.

quote:
The old way involved more political decisions, like work getting done in certain districts, etc, too.


aye.. and at GREAT cost. someone in the NE would make a bolt, while someone in the SE would make a nut.. then both would be shipped to the SW to be assembled, then shipped to the NW to be integrated into a component that would be shipped back to the east coast to be inspected.

for spacex they get the raw materials in one door and out the other end comes a rocket..well not quite that simple, but close.


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