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.


 
 

 

Headlines November 26, 2014

News: When Hagel leaves, new SecDef faces big questions about the military’s futureĀ - President Obama’s new pick to run the Pentagon will face a dizzying set of challenges affecting the Defense Department’s mission, budget and culture. Who will be the next Secretary of Defense?- Following the Nov. 24 surprise announcement from the White House, the...
 
 

News Briefs November 26, 2014

Navy to decommission two more ships in Puget Sound The Navy recently decommissioned the guided missile frigate USS Ingraham at Everett, Wash. It will be towed to Bremerton and scrapped. The Daily Herald reports the Navy also plans to decommission another ship at the Everett homeport and also one stationed in Bremerton. Naval Station Everett...
 
 

NASA airborne campaigns tackle climate questions from Africa to Arctic

NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into how different aspects of the interconnected Earth system influence climate change. NASA photograph The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support of five new investigations into...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

16T Pitch Boom reactivated to support wind tunnel tests

Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend The Pitch Boom at the AEDC 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) was recently reactivated. This model support system is used in conjunction with a roll mechanism to provide a combined pitch...
 
 

Northrop Grumman supports U.S. Air Force Minuteman missile test launch

Northrop Grumman recently supported the successful flight testing of the U.S. Air Force’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system. The operational flight test was conducted as part of the Air Force Global Strike Command’s Force Development Evaluation Program. This program demonstrates and supports assessment of the accuracy, availability and reliability of the...
 
 
army-detector

Scientists turn handheld JCAD into a dual-use chemical, explosives detector

Scientists at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., proved it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks by adding the ability to detect explosive materials to the Joint Chemical Age...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>