Space

June 7, 2012

Dragon mission performance 100 percent

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is on its recovery barge after Pacific Ocean splashdown.

From liftoff at Cape Canaveral at 3:44 a.m., EDT, May 22, to splashdown in the Pacific at 11:42 a.m., May 31, the Dragon mission to carry and return cargo to the International Space Station has been a success.

At the post-mission news briefing, Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA Commercial Crew & Cargo program manager, and Elon Musk, CEO and chief designer of SpaceX, couldn’t find a problem that occurred. Lindenmoyer said that there was a list of 33 criteria for the mission, and they had all been met.

He said that there were three major objectives for the Commercial Orbital Transportation systems contract under which SpaceX was performing. These are: stimulating private investment in orbital transportation; facilitating missions such as we saw today; and determining if NASA and industry can build a market environment that can be sustained. All three have been met.

Musk said, “the mission couldn’t have gone better, and it is incredibly satisfying after 10 years of effort.” He thanked NASA for placing its faith in SpaceX, and he thanked NASA, the Air Force and all others who have helped. The lidar sensors had to be adjusted when Dragon first approached ISS. When Dragon de-mated, working well. There will be some minor adjustments in Dragon for the next flight.

After Dragon splash landed, a dive team in fast boats secured the vehicle before it was towed to the nearby barge that is carrying it to Los Angeles harbor.

Splashdown of Dragon was within a mile of its target point. Musk said were it not for wind variability, the guidance could “put the Dragon down in your back yard.”

SpaceX is designing what it calls a propulsive landing system. This involves upgrading the Draco rocket thrusters to provide an upward force to brake Dragon as it descends to earth. It would allow Dragon to land on solid terrain, not in the water.

Dragon lifted 1,146 pounds of cargo to International Space Station, and brought back 1,455 pounds. A few items were delivered to NASA on June 2 as a demonstration of the procedure for returning time-sensitive cargo from orbit. But the Dragon itself and most of its payload will be taking a slower ride to the port of Los Angeles. Arrival is expected around June 6, depending on weather. From California, the craft and cargo will be trucked to SpaceX’s rocket test facility in MacGregor, Texas, for postflight processing. Then the cargo will be turned over to NASA.

Among those who congratulated SpaceX after mission completion was Stuart Witt, CEO of Mojave Air and Space Port.

“While most of the world may see the past weeks accomplishments as routine, our club certainly recognizes the depth and attention to detail required to pull it off,” said Witt. “I’ve watched in stunned silence glued to NASA TV for a week. What you have managed to do may not sink in to the masses for many years, but from me to you, I’m absolutely electric with happiness. What a great day for a new industry. What a great day for public/private partnerships and what a great day for our nation’s youth.

“Today we have 1300 kids shooting off rockets at our annual Intermediate Space Challenge at the airport,” he continued. “I opened with a focus on your accomplishment and asked each parent, teacher and child in attendance to go home tonight and watch/read what really occurred today.”

The Dragon spacecraft floats in the Pacific awaiting recovery. Visible are the diagonal channels that held parachute lines during flight, under a layer of thermal protection material.

View from the International Space Station of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as the station’s robotic arm moves Dragon into place for attachment to the station May 25, 2012.




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


 
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI

NASA’s Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy through cosmic magnifying glass

Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI The mammoth galaxy cluster Abell 2744 is so massive that its powerful gravity bends the light from galaxies far behind it, making these otherwise unseen background objects appear larger a...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA TV to air Russian spacewalk from International Space Station

NASA photograph Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency will don Orlan spacesuits and step outside the International Space Station Oct. 22, to perform wor...
 
 
Ball Aerospace photograph

Ball Aerospace green propellant infusion mission to host three DOD space experiments

Ball Aerospace photograph The NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) will fly three Defense Department experimental hosted payloads when it launches in 2016. The NASA and Ball ...
 

 
Photograph by NASA, Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory

NASA spacecraft provides new information about sun’s atmosphere

Photograph by NASA, Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory provided the outer image of a coronal mass ejection on May 9, 2014. The IRIS spacecraft. The IRIS mission views the int...
 
 
University of Colorado/NASA photograph

NASA mission provides its first look at Martian upper atmosphere

University of Colorado/NASA photograph Three views of an escaping atmosphere, obtained by MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph. By observing all of the products of water and carbon dioxide breakdown, MAVEN’s remote ...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

NASA’s Hubble Telescope finds potential Kuiper Belt targets for New Horizons Pluto mission

Image courtesy of NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI) This is an artist’s impression of a Kuiper Belt object (KBO), located on the outer rim of our solar system at a staggering distance of 4 billion miles from the Sun. A HST surv...
 




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>