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Space ISS NASA Transportation

SpaceX Dragon Set To Launch 111

Posted by timothy
from the go-cat-go dept.
SpaceX's first regular launch to the International Space Station is set to go off at 8:35 (Eastern time) Sunday evening; the first SpaceX launch to successfully reach the ISS was more of a test, though it did bring some goodies to the crew. Wired has a live video feed in place. Slashdot reader Lee Sheridan is in Florida for the launch; if you're one of the billion Facebook users, his photos of the mission briefing and Falcon 9 lift vehicle being lifted to vertical are public. The SpaceX twitter feed might be fun to watch, too. Update: 10/08 00:09 GMT by T : Bonus points for intelligent parsing of the acronym-laden communications on the live feed.
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SpaceX Dragon Set To Launch

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  • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:15PM (#41580123) Homepage

    Yeah they got this one in with some time to spare. T-21m as I'm writing this.

    And it looks like wired's embedded ustream feed isn't working... so there's this:
    http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html [nasa.gov]

  • In Orbit (Score:4, Informative)

    by runeghost (2509522) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:50PM (#41580339)

    It's in orbit. No apparent problems so far.

  • SpaceX stream (Score:5, Informative)

    by Altanar (56809) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:20PM (#41580507)
    If you missed it, you can watch the recording at http://www.spacex.com/webcast/ [spacex.com], which in my opinion, was the best way of viewing it live.
  • Re:Simplicity (Score:4, Informative)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:56PM (#41580707) Homepage Journal

    The internal rocket systems have also improved considerably, since the Falcon rockets use TCP/IP for internal commands along with the dozens of cameras mounted inside of the vehicle. I loved the live dual views of the 1st stage separation event from both the 1st and 2nd stages at the same time... together with 2nd stage ignition. That simply wasn't even possible in the Apollo days.

    I love this photo though in terms of putting things into perspective: https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/255106389683343360/photo/1 [twitter.com]

  • Re:Simplicity (Score:5, Informative)

    by thrich81 (1357561) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:56PM (#41580709)

    Don't know if this contradicts your statement much, but the first US space launches (uncrewed and crewed) were pretty simple affairs. Both (Explorer 1 and Mercury -Redstone 3) used the Redstone IRBM as the basis of the launch vehicle. Since the Redstone was a field deployable ballistic missile its launch support was minimal, not much more than a launch ring to sit on according to a bio of Von Braun I just read. The first Saturns (Saturn I) didn't have much either. Check out the picture of the first one launched (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_I). The two stage Saturn I's had nearly the same payload capability as the Falcon 9. The later Saturns and the Shuttle had a lot of ground support, I'll admit.

  • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @10:32PM (#41580883) Homepage Journal

    One huge problem SpaceX is facing for commercial crew vehicles is that there is no formal standard or licensing system in place for orbital spacecraft made by commercial entities, at least regulations defined by the FAA Office of Commercial Spaceflight. NASA has some regulations in place... regulations that none of their vehicles have ever met (including the Orion spacecraft) and they are also very arbitrary and political regulations as well. SpaceX is trying hard to hit a moving target as the regulations for commercial crew flights to the ISS also keep changing based upon political winds at the time.

    One thing that SpaceX (and Elon Musk in particular) has mentioned is needed for the Dragon is the launch escape system of some sort that can haul the capsule away from the Falcon 9 in an emergency. That still needs to be developed. Furthermore, the current edition of the Falcon 9 (currently called the "version 1.0") also lacks the payload capacity to send astronauts to the ISS. At the moment and with this launch, all it can do is send up about 500 kg of cargo inside of the Dragon, which isn't enough for a proper crew + life support. The "upgraded version" of the Falcon 9 ("version 1.1") on the other hand is expected to provide that sort of lift capacity.

    SpaceX is close, but not quite ready to send somebody up yet.

  • Re:we've taken (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:24AM (#41581655)

    when did the US government buy Iridium, SES, and Intelsat? And then, of course, when did the US government annex Thailand since Thaicom has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Thaicom 6 next year. I won't even mention the contracts with Asia Broadcast Systems and Satmex since those are obviously US government affiliated.

    SpaceX does not mine ore or harvest gasses. And it never will. They are a rocket company not a mining company. If you have a problem with mining companies that don't want to move into space I suggest you go troll their message boards. SpaceX can get your shit in space. It doesn't operate it, finance it, or dictate to the customer what to do. SpaceX isn't NASA so don't bash them for not having as ambitious goals as NASA does.

  • Re:In Orbit (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:58AM (#41582461)

    Catastrophic, that word doesn't mean what you think it means. If the control systems can compensate then it isn't catastrophic.

    Although the Falcon 9 needs all 9 engines for takeoff, it is designed to handle losing 1 or 2 (depending on how far into the launch it is) after takeoff without a problem.

  • Re:Simplicity (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2012 @04:59AM (#41582463)

    The early Saturns, which contrary to popular belief were developed before Kennedy was elected in 1960, had a 1st stage that consisted of a cluster of stretched Redstone and Jupiter missile tanks and a cluster of eight H-1 engines derived from those programs

    There are many reasons why the later Saturns and the Shuttle had so many people and so much ground support equipment, but here's a brief explanation:

    1. The systems are more complex than most keyboard-jockeys understand. There are fuel systems and oxidizer systems, but then there are also systems to pressurize the tanks (usually with helium) as fuel is sucked out of them (do they don't implode during ascent) and there are are systems to control the temperatures of systems like the onboard guidance electronics (so it performs properly) and systems to gimbal the engines (to steer) and systems to monitor the engines and all the other systems (in order to trigger an abort if needed) etc. Those 1st Saturns had only a live 1st stage initially and then later carried a live, moderate-performance, second stage. The later Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets were more complex systems (requiring more support and monitoring) and also carried precious human cargo whose families and nation would be unhappy to lose.

    2. There were no modern computers back then... so instead of a PC watching a thousand sensors and alert if something failed, we used to use hundreds of well-trained people who each monitored a very limited number of things and used the best complex fuzzy logic systems available then (human brains) to make moment-by-moment judgements

    3. Shuttle systems were designed in the late Apollo years... shuttles at the time they started flying were the most complex machines ever designed and built by man and for the whole thing to work you needed the most high-performance and complex engines ever built. When they started flying, the shuttle engines used turbopumps, for example, that were the fastest rotating devices man had ever made... the whole system was really pushing the limits of what was humanly possible to an extent that most people never appreciated. And that first flight happened years before the first 4.77MHz 8088-powered PC was sold. As a result, you had very complex ground support systems and lots of people on the ground keeping an eye on things... and remember that things needed to be perfect because there was no real escape for the crew if something went wrong (yes, I know, Columbia had ejection seats for the two-man crews of the first couple test flights, but nobody seriously liked the odds of ejecting in the vicinity of those burning SRBs and three SSMEs...)

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