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Space Science

SpaceX Announces Dragon As First Falcon 9 Payload 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the are-they-saying-it's-mythical-and-spews-fire dept.
BJ_Covert_Action writes "SpaceX announced recently that it would be integrating a stripped-down test version of its own Dragon cargo capsule as the payload for its first Falcon 9 test launch. The Falcon 9 rocket is currently scheduled to launch on November 29 of this year if everything goes according to plan. However, Elon Musk admits that launch day will likely slip to sometime early next year. The Falcon 9 is the heavy launch vehicle designed by SpaceX to be used as a cheap, commercial alternative to existing United States launch platforms. Having launched a few successful light missions with the Falcon 1 rocket, SpaceX is going to launch the Falcon 9 as its next milestone in commercializing the space industry. Utilizing its own cargo capsule as the first Falcon 9 payload will effectively give SpaceX double the tests for one launch slot on the Cape Canaveral range. The capsule that will be used is a test version of the full Dragon capsule that encompasses primarily the structure and a few components of the full version. It served originally as a ground test platform for the Dragon design team and now will double as an orbital testbed. If nothing else, the announcement upped the ante in the commercial space market by showing the SpaceX is capable and willing to push the envelope on its development schedules. It should serve as a proper motivator for other commercial competitors such as Orbital Sciences with their Cygnus capsule, which is also under development."
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SpaceX Announces Dragon As First Falcon 9 Payload

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  • by Xin Jing (1587107) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @12:04PM (#29548771)

    I originally wanted to post this here http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/09/25/2328247/NASAs-Space-Plans-Take-Another-Hit [slashdot.org], but an unknown error prevented me from doing so. My commentary is still relevant for this article:

    I think that NASA should be stripped down and restructured. All manned missions and support operations with a military application should be converted to their respective military counterparts, the whole thing headed up by Joint Chiefs of Staff. From Wikipedia, "their primary responsibility is to ensure the personnel readiness, policy, planning and training of their respective military services for the combatant commanders to utilize." The President and Secretary of Defense can tap the manned space capability of the respective military branches, and the JCS maintains training, policy and readiness. Oversight for military applications already has a process, which would remain in place.

    NASA would be reduced or redesignated from it's current role to that of managing and conducing operations for unmanned space missions such as deep space probes and telescopes, establishing rules, standards and accident reviews for commercial space activities just like the FAA. NASA would also continue to provide tenantship to fixed orbital platforms such as the ISS, in conjunction with other participating nations. Every manned application is auctioned off to civilian corporations that meet specific minimal requirements. NASA would become the space analogy of the FAA, allowing a vacuum to exist allowing other responsible and qualified fair trade entities to step in and compete for the best possible road to commercial space business.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @12:19PM (#29548833)

    Why are they going to need good luck? You sound a little pessimistic about their efforts.

    The first launch of any new rocket is likely to run into unforseen problems which can cause it to fail, particularly when it's been developed quickly on a low budget. SpaceX have some experience now with the earlier Falcon launches, but the odds of a failure are significant... that's just rocket science for you.

  • Potential Payload (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drbuzz0 (1638167) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @03:04PM (#29549709)
    My understanding is that they will be launching the Dragon as basically a test item, not a fully capable version of the capsule intended to dock with the space station. The first Falcon-1 launch carried a "mass simulator" - basically a chunk of metal to act as ballast. The reasoning is, as mentioned, it's uninsurable on the first launch and there is a high probability of failure on the first full launch of a new space vehicle.

    Still, I can think of one group that would love to send up a ton of cargo, even if they knew it was risky: AMSAT. The ham radio satellite organization. Launch costs tend to limit their potential satellites to being tiny cubesats, which can be hard to fit much capabilities into. Their satellites are built very cheaply compared to other satellite producers and their biggest cost tends to be launching them. They could build one hell of a satellite with the kind of mass that the Falcon-9 could put up there, and given the possibilities, they may very well be willing to accept that there is a large risk it won't even make it. It could be the one realistic opportunity to have any chance of launching a really big payload.

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