Space

October 12, 2012

SpaceX’s Dragon carrying NASA cargo supplies space station

The Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft was berthed to the International Space Station at 8:03 a.m., CDT, Oct 9, a key milestone in a new era of commercial spaceflight.

The delivery flight is the first contracted resupply mission by the company under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

“I want to congratulate SpaceX and the NASA team that worked alongside them to make this happen, and salute the astronauts aboard the space station who successfully captured the Dragon capsule,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “This marks the start of a new era of exploration for the United States, one where we will reduce the cost of missions to low-Earth orbit so we can focus our resources on deep space human missions back around the moon, to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.”

Space station Expedition 33 crew members Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Sunita Williams of NASA used the station’s robotic arm to successfully capture Dragon at 5:56 a.m. The capture came 2 days, 10 hours, 21 minutes and after the mission’s launch. The station was 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean, just west of Baja California.

Following its capture, the spacecraft was attached to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony node. The station crew could open the hatch to Dragon as early as Wednesday afternoon to begin unloading its cargo. The capsule is scheduled to spend 18 days attached to the station before returning for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the Southern California coast.

Dragon delivered 882 pounds of supplies to the orbiting laboratory, including 260 pounds of crew supplies, 390 pounds of scientific research, 225 pounds of hardware and several pounds of other supplies. Dragon will return a total of 1,673 pounds, including 163 pounds of crew supplies, 866 pounds of scientific research, and 518 pounds of vehicle hardware and other hardware.

Dragon’s capability to return cargo from the station is critical for supporting scientific research in the orbiting laboratory’s unique microgravity environment, which enables important benefits for humanity and increases understanding of how humans can safely work, live and thrive in space for long periods. The ability to return frozen samples is a first for this flight and will be very helpful to the station’s research community. Not since the space shuttle have NASA and its international partners been able to return considerable amounts of research and samples for analysis.

The Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 8:35 p.m., EDT, Oct. 7 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The mission was the first of at least 12 Space X cargo resupply missions to the space station through 2016. The resupply contract with NASA is worth $1.6 billion.

“Under President Obama’s leadership, the nation is embarking on an ambitious space program that is bringing critical launches back to the United States, in-sourcing American jobs, and keeping the nation on the cutting edge of technology development and innovation, all the while, maintaining America’s world leadership and dominance in space exploration,” Bolden said.

SpaceX is one of two companies that built and tested new cargo spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. SpaceX completed its final demonstration test in May when it launched a Dragon capsule to the station and performed a series of checkout maneuvers, before Dragon was grappled by the station crew and installed on the orbiting laboratory.

Orbital Sciences is the other company participating in COTS. Orbital’s Antares launch vehicle is on the launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The rocket and pad will undergo a series of fueling tests that will take about three weeks. After the tests are completed, a hot fire test of the Antares first-stage engines will be conducted. A flight test of the Antares with a simulated Cygnus spacecraft will be flown in late 2012. A demonstration flight of Cygnus to the space station is planned in early 2013.

NASA initiatives like COTS and the agency’s Commercial Crew Program are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit. In addition to cargo flights, NASA’s commercial space partners are making progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next 5 years.

 




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


 
 

 
Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft stays course to Pluto

Images courtesy of NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI These images show the difference between two sets of 48 combined 10-second exposures with New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera, taken at 8:40 UTC and 10:25 UTC...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Fourth Lockheed Martin-built MUOS secure comm satellite shipped

Lockheed Martin photograph On June 28, MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, shipped to Cape Canaveral from Lockheed Martin’s satellite manu...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz

NASA’s Chandra captures x-ray echoes pinpointing distant neutron star

Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz A light echo in X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided a rare opportunity to precisely measure the distance to an object on the other side of the...
 

 

Veteran NASA spacecraft nears 60,000th lap around Mars

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft will reach a major milestone June 23, when it completes its 60,000th orbit since arriving at the Red Planet in 2001. Named after the bestselling novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey began orbiting Mars almost 14 years ago, on Oct. 23, 2001. On Dec. 15, 2010, it...
 
 
nasa-study

NASA selects six wild ideas in aviation for further study

NASA has selected six proposals to study transformative ideas that might expand what’s possible in aviation, shifting the boundary between fantastic and futuristic. During a day-long meeting in April, 17 teams pitched the...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA signs agreement with Space Florida to operate historic landing facility

NASA photograph This aerial photo of the runway at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility looks north. Longer and wider than most commercial runways, it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wi...
 




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>