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At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship Takes Off (Video) 137

Posted by Roblimo
from the ad-astra-per-aspera dept.
Tuesday morning at 0344, right on schedule (and it had to be right on schedule), Elon Musk's baby finally left the launch pad on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). Two babies, actually: the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is what we watched as it took off from Cape Canaveral -- the first private spaceship headed for the ISS -- with the Dragon spacecraft perched on its nose. The Dragon carried over 1000 pounds of supplies and experiments for the ISS. The launch went off without a hitch. But don't stop holding your breath quite yet; Dragon isn't scheduled to dock at the ISS until Friday.
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At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship Takes Off (Video)

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  • Re:Popping sound (Score:4, Informative)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:18PM (#40081827)

    I haven't watched the video yet, but when I was present for one of the shuttle launches a few years ago there was a point when it was pretty high when the sound definitely started "popping". It was fairly high by that point, so the sound was traveling quite a distance and was mostly the low frequencies by the time it got to us, but the popping was clearly noticeable.

  • An accounting marvel (Score:5, Informative)

    by linuxwrangler (582055) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:21PM (#40081839)

    A commenter on NPR today made an interesting point. There is a lot of talk about "first private..." but NASA has relied heavily on private industry since the beginning. Lockheed Martin, Morton Thaikol, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Rockwell Colllins, Teledyne, Honeywell, Kodak, Perkin-Elmer.........

    And Falcon launched from a government built/owned/maintained launch-site.

    What *is* different is the accounting. Instead of a bevy of cost-plus contracts there is now a single-point fixed-cost provider which, surprise surprise, seems to be able to deliver at a much lower cost/kg.

    And no, this does not detract from their accomplishment. Getting to space is still difficult and risky. Congratulations to everyone involved regardless of who writes their paychecks.

  • Re:Popping sound (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThreeKelvin (2024342) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:31PM (#40081905)

    If you mean the "popping noise" the TM65 engine that Copenhagen Suborbitals testet made at startup, then it was a bit of engine oscilations. It's most likely caused by the engine being run at a low fuel pressure. The fuel will ignite in the ignition chamber, causing the pressure to rise, giving a higher exhaust flow, causing the pressure to drop, giving less exhaust flow, resulting in more fuel in the ignition chamber, that ignites, ...

    At higher fuel pressures the oscilations are dampened. (But they do sound awsome!)

    I don't know if that's the case with SpaceX's Falcon, but I'm pretty sure that if they have engine oscilations it's nothing they can't handle.

  • Details (Score:5, Informative)

    by optimism (2183618) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:31PM (#40081907)

    For the minority of /. readers who care about the details, I highly recommend downloading the COTS 2 Press Kit from SpaceX.
    It provides tons of details and graphics describing the mission objectives, schedule, cargo manifest, vehicle specs, and much more...

    http://www.spacex.com/downloads/COTS-2-Press-Kit-5-14-12.pdf [spacex.com]

    (I am not affiliated with SpaceX, but I like what they are doing)

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:10PM (#40082155)

    Delta-IV is about 3x as expensive to launch as the Falcon 9. Delta-IV is pretty much the most expensive way to put things in orbit now that the shuttle is gone.

  • by bledri (1283728) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:00PM (#40082445)

    Insightful? Interesting? It's Funny FFS

    It may be funny, but it's also true [time.com].

  • Re:Popping sound (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @11:50PM (#40083255)

    FWIW, the space shots of the 60's, as I remember them, used to "pop". Back then I just thought it was a limitation of the audio hardware in use at the time.

  • It isn't docking. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZankerH (1401751) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @03:42AM (#40084493)

    Dragon isn't scheduled to dock at the ISS until Friday.

    The Dragon isn't capable of docking, it has to be grappled by the station's robotic arm and berthed to a common berthing port. It is scheduled to receive an upgrade that enables it to use docking ports in the future, but on this flight, it's berthing, not docking.

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