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Dragon arrived at the orbiting station early Wednesday morning

SpaceX's Dragon capsule successfully made it to the International Space Station (ISS) early this morning, where it will unload nearly 1,000 pounds of cargo for the next few weeks.

The unmanned Dragon capsule set off toward the ISS Sunday night, and arrived at the orbiting station early Wednesday morning. Astronauts on the ISS used a robot arm to securely latch the Dragon to the space station about 250 miles above the Pacific, just west of Baja California. 

"Looks like we've tamed the Dragon," said Sunita Williams, ISS commander. "We're happy she's on board with us." 

The Dragon's hatch will be opened tomorrow, where astronauts will begin unloading the cargo inside. Right now, Dragon contains 882 pounds of scientific experiments, groceries, clothes and other items. The capsule will return to Earth with twice as much cargo.

This week's venture to the ISS marks Dragon's second journey to the ISS. It originally made a test flight back in May of this year, but this particular trip marks the first official cargo run as part of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. This contract locks SpaceX in to 12 total cargo runs to the ISS through 2015. 


While today's linkup at the ISS was a successful one, the entire trip wasn't perfect. A prototype communications satellite aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket (which launched Dragon to the ISS) was sent into the wrong orbit due to one of the Falcon 9s' Merlin engines shutting down early during Sunday night's launch. Orbcomm, the company that owns the prototype OG2 satellite, said it was "deposited into a lower-than-intended orbit." The company is now analyzing whether the satellite can use its onboard propulsion system to adjust its orbit.

Aside from that malfunction, all went well for the SpaceX mission. Dragon is due to return to Earth near the end of October, after all cargo is unloaded and reloaded. 

SpaceX, a private space transport company from California, stepped in as America's new form of transportation to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet throughout 2011. This retirement left American astronauts with no way to get to the ISS, except onboard a Russian Soyuz rocket -- which has become pretty pricey. 

It was clear that the U.S. needed a new way to send supplies to and from the ISS, and SpaceX was happy to provide its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket. 

Dragon is set to make its next cargo run for the NASA contact in January 2013. 

SpaceX is also working on a Dragon capsule that can be manned by astronauts, and hopes to send the first manned Dragon to the ISS between 2015 and 2017. 

Sources: Boston.com, Reuters



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So it begins!
By geddarkstorm on 10/10/2012 2:24:32 PM , Rating: 3
The first official private company cargo delivery, and just look how cheap a deal that dragon is. I hope nothing but growing success across the remaining launches.

This should really buoy the hopes of other private space station companies like Bungalow; now everything can be done more cheaply in the private sector without having to contract out to Russia or other government programs. With any luck, we'll get that man rated dragon, and really get the space development ball rolling. Nothing like private sector and industry to tame those wilds, as history taught us with North America.




RE: So it begins!
By geddarkstorm on 10/10/12, Rating: 0
RE: So it begins!
By quiksilvr on 10/10/2012 2:44:28 PM , Rating: 3
Uh...
http://www.cnn.com/

If you look to the right, under Sports and Make CNN your Homepage, there is a tab called SpaceX mission.


RE: So it begins!
By geddarkstorm on 10/10/2012 2:47:35 PM , Rating: 2
Interestingly enough, I don't have that tab. But it is now in the "just in" feed. Guess I was just looking a little too early.


RE: So it begins!
By kwrzesien on 10/10/2012 2:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
There is one now, posted at 1:46 PM EDT:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/10/us/spacex-mission/in...

However the link for it on the left bar is titled: "Private capsule docks at space station" - not exactly eye-grabbing.


RE: So it begins!
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/12, Rating: -1
RE: So it begins!
By nafhan on 10/10/2012 3:32:04 PM , Rating: 4
Rather than liberal or Conservative my experience with CNN is that it should be called the Celebrity News Network. 4 straight weeks of all Michael Jackson coverage all the time got me to quit using CNN as a regular news source a few years back.

My opinion: if you want "balanced" news, you need multiple sources; including several that are non-US. Unfortunately, most people don't have the time, and/or would prefer news that doesn't challenge what they believe. Therefore they single source their news from somewhere that's not going to force them to consider their beliefs.


RE: So it begins!
By Stiggalicious on 10/10/2012 4:51:45 PM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, I remember Kennedy saying that space travel was worthless and that going to the moon was a huge waste of money...


RE: So it begins!
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2012 4:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
I said "Liberal", not "Democrat". If you think Kennedy was a Liberal you have huge issues.


RE: So it begins!
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 5:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
Kennedy's closest economic advisor was Walt Rostow, author of "Stages of Growth: A non-Communist Manifesto," who also worked for Einsenhower and Johnson but today would probably be a tea party member.

Liberals do not want to try to go down this road. :P If that's not enough, there's plenty of videos on YouTube of Kennedy very much sounding like a modern Republican, from strong foreign policy to economic policies.


RE: So it begins!
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 10/10/2012 7:37:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the definition of Republican, Democrat, Liberal, and Conservative have shifted quite a bit in the last 50 years. Comparing previous presidents to recent ones is difficult if you only look at political affiliation.


RE: So it begins!
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2012 9:08:20 PM , Rating: 5
Yup. One might wonder why Kennedy isn't cited as a shinning example by modern-day Liberals the same as us Conservatives hero worship Reagan. Well lets examine his record:

He cut taxes
He "warmongered"
He clearly loved America and believed in it's greatness
He detested Socialism/Communism

That's how far the Democrat party has moved left in recent decades. If more Democrats were like JFK, I would be compelled to actually consider voting for them.


RE: So it begins!
By FaaR on 10/10/2012 5:21:53 PM , Rating: 3
"Liberal media" in the US is such a tired, worn-out canard. Who owns this so-called "liberal" media? Big business, that's who. And which side of the political spectrum does big business typically side with, just asking rethorically here.

There IS no such thing as "liberal media" in the US, well, at least not amongst any of the big national-level TV and radio networks and newspapers. But yeah, just go on repeating that same old cliché'd fallacy, it's your comfort blanket after all.


RE: So it begins!
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/12, Rating: -1
RE: So it begins!
By Paj on 10/11/2012 8:41:39 AM , Rating: 2
Serious question - which news media outlet in the US is as 'liberal' as, say, the Guardian?


RE: So it begins!
By Rukkian on 10/11/2012 9:03:27 AM , Rating: 2
When you are comparing anything to faux news, it is definately liberal media. That is the benchmark, anything left of faux news is considered liberal.


RE: So it begins!
By speedfriend on 10/11/2012 3:37:06 AM , Rating: 2
An American company started by a South African!


RE: So it begins!
By Amiga500 on 10/10/2012 3:59:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The first official private company cargo delivery, and just look how cheap a deal that dragon is.


Well thats true... it is far easier to develop a rocket after NASA, SSP, Roscosmos, Arianespace etc have been through the pain to build the knowledgebase.

Of course, such consideration for reality is of little concern to those that would beat the private sector vs. public sector bandwagon.

Regarding your last point - the private sector did indeed 'tame those wilds', because there was strong economic reason to do so. As yet, in space, we have little economic return, so private sector/industry have no real incentive to get involved outside of satellite launches. When we reach the technological maturity necessary to mine asteroids, or to return H3 from the moon, then we will see private industry to the forefront.

Unfortunately, developing that technology will probably necessitate public bodies (such as NASA/Roscosmos/ESA) going through the uneconomic and "wasteful" bit of R&D.


RE: So it begins!
By Reclaimer77 on 10/10/2012 4:18:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Of course, such consideration for reality is of little concern to those that would beat the private sector vs. public sector bandwagon.


The reality is there IS no public vs private argument when it comes to space travel. The Government hasn't built a single thing for space travel. They contracted out for all of it to private contractors, who then did all of the work.


RE: So it begins!
By Amiga500 on 10/10/2012 6:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
Historically NASA did a lot of the design work (at the Marshall or Goddard Centres), then farmed out manufacture (except in instances where rockets were modified from USAF missiles).

Correctly so too - it makes sense for private companies to do the manufacturing, as increasing production numbers (if not with the same rocket, but much of the same tools/people) with USAF ICBMs does reduce costs per rocket/missile somewhat.

There is a balance of technical risk that has to be struck - a govt body can afford (and needs to be able to afford) higher risk projects - even projects that would seem to fail* - whereas that would be fatal to a private company.

*Even learning that something doesn't work is still worth learning, so nothing that falls a bit short of its goals is a complete failure (within reason of course).


RE: So it begins!
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 4:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure what your logic is. If SpaceX was just taking what others have already done, then why haven't Boeing, Lockheed and NASA's other bed buddies not come out with cheaper launch platforms? It's not like they don't have competition from Europe and Russia for launch services.

Further, that's also not quite true about the financial incentives being seen as only in satellite launch. I know you've been paying attention so you're intentionally leaving out all the tourism initiatives doing R&D and prepping services, including a couple firms trying to float private moon shots, another firm working on, first, orbital inflatable space stations, followed by a plan to construct a station at a la grange point and lower it to a prepared location on the lunar surface. He's already got some test modules in orbit.

The facts are plain; on the manned spaceflight side of things, the private sector is where all the innovation and excitement is. NASA, ESA, etc all, obviously dominate interplanetary probes, space telescopes, and science in general. We're a hundred years or more away from private firms needing to know squat about anything further away than the asteroid belt.

Not to say NASA doesn't have a role, but even some of the interesting R&D being done "by" NASA is, in fact, outsourced to people like Chang-Diaz at his company Ad Astra Rocket Company with his VASMIR.

But you know all that, I think a private company achieving success just sticks in some peoples craw. Can't handle it. Gotta take 'em down a notch. Like the rich.


RE: So it begins!
By Amiga500 on 10/10/2012 6:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If SpaceX was just taking what others have already done, then why haven't Boeing, Lockheed and NASA's other bed buddies not come out with cheaper launch platforms?


Why have the significantly larger competitors not come out with cheaper solutions?

Your the rabid capitalist, you tell me why larger (and thus by capitalist definition, more efficient) companies cannot reduce their costs below a smaller competitor.

Unless your hinting at the worth of a govt body nurturing small companies rather than letting them be swallowed up as per market forces?

quote:
so you're intentionally leaving out all the tourism initiatives


Yep. A flight that cannot orbit the earth at least once is of no interest to me. Get back to me when the others have got beyond "study" stages - their business plans are not credible.

The lagrangian point station is not going to go to the lunar surface - the point of it is a staging point for missions into the solar system as that is the location of minimum impulse required for mission "launch".

quote:
Not to say NASA doesn't have a role, but even some of the interesting R&D being done "by" NASA is, in fact, outsourced to people like Chang-Diaz at his company Ad Astra Rocket Company with his VASMIR.


Of course it is. Same as I said to reclaimer elsewhere - at this level it makes sense to send very specialised work to the specialists. If it didn't happen I wouldn't be working where I am.

quote:
But you know all that, I think a private company achieving success just sticks in some peoples craw. Can't handle it. Gotta take 'em down a notch. Like the rich.


No - I disagree with the notion that in many instances the private company could not have achieved what they did without either direct govt support, or by standing on the shoulders of work done by others, the fundamental work of which will almost certainly have been govt funded. It is grossly unfair, which doesn't sit well with me.

I work in private industry, I detest govt waste, its my money being pissed up against the wall. But direct your anger at where the waste is, useless admin functions that only become self-serving destructive entropy within the system! Not the search for scientific knowledge which will be required at some point in the future, if not the short-term.


RE: So it begins!
By delphinus100 on 10/10/2012 7:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yep. A flight that cannot orbit the earth at least once is of no interest to me.


That's okay, it isn't being done just for you.

As long as it 'interests' enough other people enough to do it profitably, it works. Suborbital is adequate for a certain sector of users, orbital would be expensive overkill for them. That's why there have been sounding rockets for over half a century. And suborbitally, re-usability and lower cost are that much easier to achieve.


RE: So it begins!
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 9:32:43 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Your the rabid capitalist, you tell me why larger (and thus by capitalist definition, more efficient) companies cannot reduce their costs below a smaller competitor.


As a "rabid capitalist", I'd say there is nothing capitalist about the incestuous relationship between Lockheed, Boeing and the US government. The fact that they haven't been able to translate economies of scale proves that they're not responding to any competitive pressure, and the reason why is clear; they didn't feel like they needed to. Only capitalist firms compete. Lockheed, Boeing, they are just what a "rabid capitalist" (also known as "economists") would call rent seekers.

quote:
Yep. A flight that cannot orbit the earth at least once is of no interest to me. Get back to me when the others have got beyond "study" stages - their business plans are not credible.


Biggalow is well past the "study" stages; again, he has, last I heard, two station modules inflated and in orbit.

quote:
The lagrangian point station is not going to go to the lunar surface -


He figures something similar; it'd be easiest to assemble the station there, and then nudge it out to land it on the lunar surface, in a prepared location, where it can then be partially buried.

Maybe some of the issue is you're just not following some of these companies advancements close enough. Some of them I think have more meat on the bones then you'd come to realize.


RE: So it begins!
By danjw1 on 10/10/2012 6:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
Boeing actually got a COTS contract and got more money in the latest round from NASA. But, they are planning on using the Delta V rocket. Which is insanity to me, this is old, expensive technology. I don't know why NASA feels like throwing away taxpayer money on something that won't compete on price with a system that is up and working.


RE: So it begins!
By Ringold on 10/10/2012 9:34:14 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I don't know why NASA feels like throwing away taxpayer money on something that won't compete on price with a system that is up and working.


Probably politics. Not left vs right politics, but probably some murky relationship going on there, some form of kick-back. You're right though, that's ridiculous, COTS exists pretty much for everyone BUT Boeing and Lockheed.


RE: So it begins!
By Jaybus on 10/11/2012 2:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
Where did you get that? The CST-100 is being designed to be compatible with several launch vehicles, including the Delta IV, Atlas V, and Falcon 9. Initial flight tests will use the Atlas V. The Atlas V is not that old. It's maiden flight was in 2002.

We are talking about manned flight. From an engineering perspective, it just is too risky to use the Falcon 9 at this point. It's maiden launch was in 2010. It has only had 3 successful launches and one partial success (early engine shutoff). The Atlas V has 32 successful launches and one partial success (early engine shutoff). Which would you choose if people's lives were depending on you? It is just good engineering to start with the one that has the best launch record.


RE: So it begins!
By Jaybus on 10/11/2012 2:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
Huh? SpaceX just beat them to the punch. See Boeing's PR on the NASA funded CST-100 manned vehicle at http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=24...


RE: So it begins!
By hood6558 on 10/10/2012 11:01:31 PM , Rating: 2
134 million per mission is pretty cheap, but I expect manned missions will cost a great deal more. Luckily energy in space is plentiful and cheap once we can harness it properly. The big factor may be travel time; without a "warp drive" all the really good real estate is too far away. The thing is to get humanity spread out enough so that some nimrod pushing a launch button can't wipe out everyone in one swoop. That will (hopefully) give us time to invent the space drive and get on with the serious business of populating the galaxy. Or we could all stay here until we starve or more likely kill each other off - your choice! (send your children & grandchildren to space camp now - avoid the rush!)


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