Space

May 29, 2012

Astronauts enter world’s first private supply ship

by Marcia Dunn
Associated Press

Space station astronauts floated into the Dragon May 26, a day after its heralded arrival as the world’s first commercial supply ship.

NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, the first one into the docked capsule, said it reminded him of the cargo capability of his pickup truck back home in Houston.

“The smell inside smells like a brand new car,” Pettit reported. The compartment was brilliantly white and, he noted; clean, no dirt or other particles appeared to be floating around.

To protect against possible debris, Pettit wore goggles, a mask and a caver’s light as he slid open the hatch of the newest addition to the International Space Station. The complex sailed 250 miles above the Tasman Sea, just west of New Zealand, as he and his crewmates made their grand entrance.

“This event isn’t just a simple door opening between two spacecraft – it opens the door to a future in which U.S. industry can and will deliver huge benefits for U.S. space exploration,” the Space Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group, said in a statement.

The California-based SpaceX – formally Space Exploration Technologies Corp. – is the first private company to send a vessel to the space station. It’s run by Elon Musk, a billionaire who helped create PayPal and founded the electric car company Tesla Motors.

NASA is handing over orbital delivery work to American business in order to focus on bigger and better objectives, such as getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars. The space agency hopes astronaut ferry trips will follow soon; SpaceX contends its Dragons could be carrying space station astronauts up and down within three or four years.

Flight controllers were ecstatic to be at the cusp of this new commercial era.

“It’s great to see you guys inside Dragon. It looks great,” Mission Control radioed.

The six space station residents have until the middle of next week to unload Dragon’s groceries and refill the capsule with science experiments and equipment for return to Earth. Unlike all the other cargo ships that fly to the orbiting lab, the Dragon is designed for safe re-entry. It will be freed May 31 and aim for a Pacific splashdown.

Until now, only major governments have launched cargo ships to the space station. Russia, Japan and Europe will keep providing supplies, and Russia will continue to sell rocket rides to U.S. astronauts until SpaceX or other companies are ready to take over. Several American companies are competing for the honor.

The Dragon – 19 feet tall and 12 feet wide – was launched May 22 from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Pettit used the space station’s robot arm to snare the unmanned capsule May 25.

It carried up to 1,000 pounds of food, clothes, batteries and other provisions. It will bring back 1,400 pounds’ worth of gear.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

NASA awards contract to support agency’s human spaceflight programs

NASA has selected Wyle Laboratories Inc., of El Segundo, Calif., to provide biomedical, medical and health services in support of all human spaceflight programs at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The work supports ongoing research aboard the International Space Station and helps enable the journey to Mars. The Human Health and Performance contract...
 
 
nasa-astronaut

Astronaut Stephen Frick retires from NASA

Astronaut Stephen Frick has retired from NASA to accept a position in the private sector. Frick, who flew as both a shuttle pilot and commander, left the Agency July 13. Steve has been a great asset to the astronaut office and ...
 
 
NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt photograph

NASA’s Kepler mission discovers bigger, older cousin to Earth

NASA/JPL-CalTech/R. Hurt photograph This size and scale of the Kepler-452 system compared alongside the Kepler-186 system and the solar system. Kepler-186 is a miniature solar system that would fit entirely inside the orbit of ...
 

 
NASA photograph by A. Gemignani

Launch, docking returns ISS crew to full strength

NASA photograph by A. Gemignani The Soyuz TMA-17M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan July 22, 2015 carrying Expedition 44 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), F...
 
 
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI photograph

NASA’s New Horizons team finds haze, flowing ice on Pluto

NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI photograph Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around ...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA satellite camera provides ‘EPIC’ view of Earth

NASA photograph Earth as seen on July 6, 2015, from a distance of one million miles by a NASA scientific camera aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft. A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>