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 August 18, 2014

News: U.S. mission in Iraq could expand, Pentagon official says - The mission for U.S. troops in Iraq to help Kurdish and Iraqi security forces in their fight against Islamic militants remains limited for now, but may expand after Iraqi leaders form a new government, a Pentagon spokesman said Aug. 19.   Business: Fuel deals top...
 
 

News Briefs August 20, 2014

Trials complete on fourth Coast Guard cutter Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., has completed acceptance sea trials for the company’s fourth U.S. Coast Guard national security cutter, Hamilton. Jim French, Ingalls’ NSC program manager, tells The Mississippi Press) the Hamilton is scheduled to be delivered next month and commissioned on Dec. 6 in Charleston, South...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Thomas Duval

Air Force, Army Aviation come together to complete vital mission in Egypt

Army photograph by Sgt. Thomas Duval Soldiers and airmen load a UH-60 Black Hawk into an Air Force C17 Globemaster III Aug. 19, 2104, at an old Israeli airstrip in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The airstrip is now used by the M...
 

 
Air Force photograph by TSgt. Terri Praden

Joint effort validates ability to move Stryker vehicles via air

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Terri Praden An Army Stryker combat vehicle is guided into a C-17 Globemaster III during a 25th Infantry Division training exercise Aug. 13, 2014, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The Str...
 
 
NASA image

Ozone-depleting compound persists, NASA research shows

NASA image Satellites observed the largest ozone hole over Antarctica in 2006. Purple and blue represent areas of low ozone concentrations in the atmosphere; yellow and red are areas of higher concentrations. NASA research show...
 
 

F-16V completes major capability milestone

The newest configuration of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-16V, has reached a major capability milestone with the integration of a new Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. Completing this milestone on schedule demonstrates our ability to meet program commitments, said Roderick McLean, vice president and general manager of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed...
 




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>