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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 It originally made a test flight back in May of this year, but this particular trip marks the first official cargo run as part of a $1.6 billion contract with NASA.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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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.


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