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SpaceX's Dragon in the Pacific Ocean  (Source: nationalgeographic.com)
At 12:22 p.m. PST on Sunday, the Dragon landed in the Pacific Ocean

SpaceX's Dragon capsule has safely returned from its first official journey to the International Space Station (ISS).

At 12:22 p.m. PST on Sunday, the Dragon landed in the Pacific Ocean approximately 250 miles off of the coast of southern California. SpaceX's capsule had left the ISS early Sunday morning.

The Dragon brought home 1,673 pounds of cargo from the ISS, including scientific samples, hardware and supplies. It took about 800 pounds of supplies to the ISS earlier this month.

The SpaceX recovery team is in the process of moving the Dragon to a port near Los Angeles by boat, where a portion of the cargo will be given to NASA. The rest of the cargo will be delivered to NASA after Dragon is shipped to the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas for processing.

"This historic mission signifies the restoration of America's ability to deliver and return critical space station cargo," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Technical Officer Elon Musk. "The reliability of SpaceX's technology and the strength of our partnership with NASA provide a strong foundation for future missions and achievements to come."

SpaceX stepped in with its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket as a means to send supplies (and eventually astronauts) to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011. This left American astronauts with no way to the ISS except aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, but these seats became very costly.

SpaceX flew its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS for the first time back in May for a test supply run. After that successful trip, SpaceX and NASA signed a $1.6 billion contract that allows SpaceX to complete 12 supply trips to the ISS and back.

On October 7, SpaceX made its first official supply run as part of that contract. It arrived October 10, and now, three weeks later, Dragon is back safely. The mission was a success.

Dragon is due to make its second run in January 2013. SpaceX is also looking to send the first manned Dragon capsule to the ISS somewhere between 2015 and 2017.

Source: SpaceX



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RE: congrats!
By FormulaRedline on 10/29/2012 1:42:16 PM , Rating: 2
As a former major defense/space contractor employee (I'll decline to say which one), I'll give my insight that the other posters are directionally correct if not elegant in their wording. The cost plus pricing does not set the right incentives for the contractor to be efficient in their processes, leading to excess waste and therefore high prices. This wouldn't be a problem except that the multiple source strategy of the US government (NASA included) ensures that the major contractors aren't penalized on future business for their inefficiencies.

Example: Did Lockheed just completely blow the budget on the F/A-22? Well Boeing is still selling us all the F-15s and F/A-18s, so we better make sure Lockheed still has business and award them the F-35 and watch them blow the budget and schedule on that, too.

If one company was 10x more efficient than the others, they'd still only get their predetermined share of the business.

Though I loved the products we made, I had had enough of this and moved to a different industry with real market forces. I am very happy to see private companies making inroads into the space industry, even if the defense industry remains entrenched with the incumbents.


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