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Dragon Capsule Heads Home From ISS 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the homeward-bound dept.
An Anonymous Coward sent word that the SpaceX Dragon capsule is heading home from the International Space Station. From the article: "The unmanned Dragon space capsule set off from the International Space Station Sunday for the cargo-laden return trip to Earth after successfully delivering its first commercial payload, NASA said. Using a robotic arm, an astronaut aboard the floating laboratory detached and released the capsule at 1329 GMT after an 18-day mission to resupply the space station, the first ever by a privately-owned company, SpaceX. The next step will be to bring the capsule out of orbit by intermittently firing its onboard engines to slow its speed. It is then supposed to parachute into the Pacific Ocean off the California coast at 1920 GMT."
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Dragon Capsule Heads Home From ISS

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  • by janek78 (861508) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:05PM (#41798249) Homepage

    Space X is posting updates here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast/ [spacex.com] , unfortunately there is no live video feed, only status updates.

    • What would there be live video feed of? A bunch of folks sitting around staring at computer screens?

      Seriously, the world keeps turning even without a meaningless video feed.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by chill (34294)

        Pix or it didn't happen.

        • by peragrin (659227)

          turn on your web cam take a picture and submit it to moronswithcamerasandinternet.com

          Or Facebook,

          Same thing really.

      • by janek78 (861508)

        Ever watched a Shuttle returning?

        • Watching the Shuttle is watching something *actually happening*. It's the difference between watching a baseball game, and watching a bunch of sportswriters write about a baseball game.

    • Your link tells me I'm not using a modern browser, apparently the latest bluid of Firefox on Linux is not modern enough for them.

  • Re: loss of focus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by menno_h (2670089) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:11PM (#41798291) Homepage

    Of course I like the fact that space travel is becoming a commercial matter, with more opportunities for us civvies, but here we also see the decline of NASA. They used to build one cool thing after another and launch greater and greater mission (Gemini, Apollo, Pioneer, Mariner, etc), but now the NASA is losing it's momentum and budget.
    One cause of this is because it doesn't set any real goals any more. In the good ol' days NASA had goals; put a man on the moon, put a robot on Mars, send a satellite to the edge of the solar system, etc, but now it's primary occupation is the ISS, where they do research which might one day be useful. (in the far future)
    Yes, curiosity was cool, but it wasn't new. It wasn't groundbreaking research and technology. According to Robert Zubrin [youtube.com] who explains this far better than I can, we could have people on Mars by now.
    The reason we don't is because the NASA has become unfocused.
    Dragon, to me, symbolizes this.

    • Re: loss of focus (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:23PM (#41798373)

      What blows my mind is that people think landing a science tank on mars demonstrates a mundane lack of goals.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It demonstrates some really good people doing the best they could with what little they were given to work with.

        The same people who put Curiosity on Mars could have put you or me there instead, if they were given half of the funding that George Bush spent blowing up brown people for lulz.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          The same people who put Curiosity on Mars could have put you or me there instead, if they were given half of the funding that George Bush spent blowing up brown people for lulz.

          There's also the small question if we're sending stuff out there for science or for chest-thumping of how great we are. While I'm not disputing that a Mars mission is very difficult, it's also not revolutionary different from we did with Apollo - yes humans can survive space, land on another rock and do moonwalks... err, marswalks. Yes, there's more radiation issues, landing on Mars is harder and they'll be staying longer but nothing really fundamentally sets it apart from what we've done before. Are they g

      • The skycrane was the very essence of "ground-breaking". A bigger one could set down safely the equipment we'd need to perhaps sustain life for a bit.
    • Re: loss of focus (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:27PM (#41798401)

      The benefits of the of the Space Station are not only research into the things we might need to know for human space travel.

      Much more valuable in the short term are advances in material sciences in zero and near zero gravity.

      Also, although there would be some "ethical" issues, we need to understand the possibilities of human reproduction in space - it's going to happen, especially if they do something stupid like a multi-year mission to Mars, there will be sex.

      • No, the value of the ISS is much, much more mundane. How to keep a gigantic pile of junk working in space. Short term flips around the moon or earth orbit are one thing, but you really have to be able to do stuff like fix something when it breaks.

        The human reproduction thing will probably have to wait a while, but we can practice in the mean while.

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by menno_h (2670089)

          No, the value of the ISS is much, much more mundane. How to keep a gigantic pile of junk working in space. Short term flips around the moon or earth orbit are one thing, but you really have to be able to do stuff like fix something when it breaks.

          ISS has been up there for 14 years now. The trip to Mars only takes a few years.
          I think we've had enough time to collect data by now. It's time NASA does something, or it will be superseded and made obsolete by commercial spaceflight companies.
          These companies will probably only be interested in profit, not in pure science, and might not even publish the results of their extraterrestrial surveys. This would lead to a horrible fragmentation of human knowledge of space, where the employees of companies will kn

      • by Shavano (2541114)
        At this point, it would be completely irresponsible to put fertile men and women on a long-term trip. Chances are the woman and her baby would die.
        • Re: loss of focus (Score:5, Insightful)

          by menno_h (2670089) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @04:31PM (#41798845) Homepage

          At this point, it would be completely irresponsible to put fertile men and women on a long-term trip. Chances are the woman and her baby would die.

          If we don't have gravity (or centrifugal imitations of gravity) other bad things could happen.
          Even if the baby survives, imagine the shock of encountering gravity after more than a year in space. It will not be familiar with gravity, which might lead to it jumping of an object, expecting to fly, but falling instead.
          The child's muscles might also be very underdeveloped and it's bones would be way too high on collagen and not strong enough for a gravitational environment.

        • Re: loss of focus (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning.netzero@net> on Sunday October 28, 2012 @11:04PM (#41800931) Homepage Journal

          Every time I see a statement like this, I ask: Where is the science to back up any statement of any kind about any mammalian reproduction?

          Hint: There isn't any at all... at least any sort that would tell you about what will happen to somebody conceiving a child in space and carrying that baby full term to birth. I'm not talking just humans here but any kind of mammal, including rats, mice, or even monkeys.

          This is also an experiment that to me is long overdue to be conducted on the ISS or some other space platform. To me it is a travesty that it was never done earlier. The main reason why such studies haven't been done is because NASA is too prudish about sex and has either rejected or dismissed such proposals in the past... even when there have been mixed genders of small mammals that have gone into space before.

          There have been some experiments done with mammal ovum and sperm done in a "simulated microgravity" environment... but they really aren't really anything more than a little past the basic embryo stage when that was done and powerful magnetic environments are a lousy simulation of microgravity. There was a pregnant rat which gave birth on the Space Shuttle...where the mom and the babies seemed to have done just fine, although that was limited to just a couple of weeks due to the limitations of the Space Shuttle itself for long-term missions. Some mice and rats have gone up to the ISS, but they have been explicitly separated by protocol from attempting reproduction during those experiments.

          Chances are likely that the first "experiments" will be done with humans before it is done with any other mammal... something I consider a travesty simply because such clueless statements like this one are repeatedly made and sentiments about sterilization of spaceflight participants is made through assumptions rather than any sound understanding of what is actually happening based upon real science. Assumptions can be made, but that is all they are.

          Some sort of artificial gravity (aka a spinning torus) may be necessary... and certainly there have been almost no long terms studies about what happens in a partial gravity environment to almost any living thing. There was going to be a centrifuge added to the ISS, but that module is one of the items cut from the design when budget considerations started to be applied. About the only significant partial gravity environment studied was the experience the dozen Apollo astronauts experienced while on the Moon... and the most any of those astronauts spent on the Moon was just three days. That coupled with the fact they were in a microgravity environment going to and from the Moon sort of negates the experience as well from serious consideration of determining any long-term health complications from living in a partial (say Mars-like) environment.

          It is best to simply say "we don't know" and end it at that.

          • by tibit (1762298)

            Finally someone who sees that the king is naked. Thank you Teancum! As far as I'm concerned, they should have sent a couple to ISS long ago, and has them stay there until the baby is born (assuming uncomplicated pregnancy). Yeah, there would be risks, yada yada. There are always risks. That's why they're considered the elite :)

          • by Shavano (2541114)

            Nobody's worried about the sex. Development of the child in space and possible complications of pregnancy are a bigger concern because of what it does to a woman's circulatory system.

            But those are relatively minor risks. The big risk is complications of childbirth.

            Your attitude tells us one thing very clearly. You have never been in the room when a baby was born. Humans have the most difficult deliveries of any animal, with a very high potential for loss of life. Every obstetrician knows this, and I do

            • by Teancum (67324)

              Considering I have several children.... you had better believe that I have been in the delivery room for the birth of every single one of my children. One of them even spent some time in the neo-natal unit of the hospital with some complications due to the birth. I had one of my children saved from nearly certain death because of a very skilled obstetrician... although a very skilled and mature mid-wife likely could have done the same thing in the same situation. While I did talk with my wife about home

      • by khallow (566160)

        Much more valuable in the short term are advances in material sciences in zero and near zero gravity.

        What advances? Last I looked most of that research could be done on Earth, but without the considerable cost multiplier of the station. For example, they've made gas-metal foams on Earth, by enclosing the gas in beads first.

        Also, although there would be some "ethical" issues, we need to understand the possibilities of human reproduction in space - it's going to happen, especially if they do something stupid like a multi-year mission to Mars, there will be sex.

        Which could easily be prevented by making one or both sexes sterile, say through routine surgeries.

    • Actually, it is NOT NASA's fault. It is CONgress's fault. NASA was gearing up to go to the moon in the 90's and again in the 00's. In the 90's, CONgress gutted them, and then in the 00's, the same CONgress underfunded them.

      And I disagree with Bob in that I think that Commercial space will FORCE CONgress to quit trying to stop NASA. NASA really will have no choice but to either go 100% robotic (horrible idea), OR to go BEO. Note, that the majority of the neo-cons are the real culprits. ANd the tea party p
      • by menno_h (2670089)

        If NASA would propose a plan to send humans to Mars, think it out really well, sell it to the people via press conferences and YouTube videos and _then_ propose it to congress and ask for a 'small sum' of money, the overwhelming public opinion would force any reasonable politician who wants to be reelected to vote in favor. If NASA adds some stuff about 'cracking down on the Chinese' who are already planning trips to the Moon and 'glory to America' the nationalists and some of the neocons would also be conv

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Wind back the clock about two decades. Congress killed the highly successful NERVA engine in the early/mid 70's because it was way too successful and had they let the project finish we would have been going to mars in another ten years, which was way too expensive at the time after the Apollo program.

        • I have wondered about that in light of what the neo-cons have done to NASA. Do you have any links of that? I have always thougth that it was because of the anti-nuke attitude that so enviros have pushed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tim the Gecko (745081)

      Yes, curiosity was cool, but it wasn't new. It wasn't groundbreaking research and technology.

      Unlike Beagle 2? (I'm British so maybe I'm allowed to joke about this!)

      If you are not inspired by spacecraft currently exploring Mercury [wikipedia.org], Mars [wikipedia.org], and Saturn [wikipedia.org], and spacecraft on the way to Pluto [wikipedia.org], Ceres [wikipedia.org] and Jupiter [wikipedia.org], then you may be an expensive person to please.

      • by menno_h (2670089)

        Yes, curiosity was cool, but it wasn't new. It wasn't groundbreaking research and technology.

        Unlike Beagle 2? (I'm British so maybe I'm allowed to joke about this!)

        If you are not inspired by spacecraft currently exploring Mercury [wikipedia.org], Mars [wikipedia.org], and Saturn [wikipedia.org], and spacecraft on the way to Pluto [wikipedia.org], Ceres [wikipedia.org] and Jupiter [wikipedia.org], then you may be an expensive person to please.

        I agree that NASA has some cool stuff going, but I'm talking about sending people up there. If we don't do any of that very soon, NASA will stop sending anyone past LEO.

        • It's pure cost benefit analysis. Sending people out to do planetary science costs a lot more than sending robots out to do science. If science is the goal, then for every manned science mission to a single destination, they could send ten robotic missions to multiple destinations. A manned mission has to carry all the stuff to keep people alive as well as carrying all the science stuff, and the more you carry, the more it costs.

    • by thrich81 (1357561)

      It is unfair to compare NASA of the '60s to the agency since then. NASA in the '60s had practically a blank check for a few years. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo were part of the Cold War and got military style commitments from the populace and the government. Even with that, Apollo was a flukey and unlikely thing -- before he died Kennedy had gotten cold feet about the dollar cost of his moon goal and was considering asking the Russians to "join together" in going to the moon. Kennedy's assassination made Apo

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "we could have people on Mars by now. The reason we don't is because the NASA has become unfocused."

      OK two issue in that statement.
      Issue one. "we could have people on Mars right now." Well maybe, if you can figure out how to provides sufficient air, water and food for them over that period of time with the mass limits of current boosters and rockets. Oh and if you can figure out a sufficient shielding to protect them from the radiation levels they will encounter for a close to two year round trip journey.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but you're repeating the tired old fantasies. NASA has never really been in the business of building anything. The contractors did the building, and much of the design as well. NASA was really about project management and engineering, mission control, and, um, science. Go and read about who designed and built various pieces of Gemini, Apollo, etc.

  • It landed already. (Score:5, Informative)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:47PM (#41798543) Journal
    Splash down already occurred.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Spy Handler (822350)
      yes but the speed of light is different on Slashdot, we are just getting the news that the Falcon launch is a success.
  • I suppose getting to orbit and docking and stuff took some time, so the Dragon was attached to the space station for about 14 - 15 days?

    What was it doing up there for 2 weeks? O_o Sightseeing?

    Even with union labor it should take no more than a day to unload a thousand pounds of cargo. Russians don't even have a union actually... so if you make the cosmonauts do the work, they could probably get it done in a couple of hours.

    Ok joking aside, this is a fantastic achievement for SpaceX, kudos -- their first pa

    • by Macrat (638047)

      Right now the launches are still few and far between, and there's no hurry, so I say why not leave it docked with the ISS for a couple months? It can serve as a backup lifeboat in the event of a disaster on the ISS. I know it's not man-rated yet but if the choice is between breathing vacuum and using the Dragon, I'd jump into the Dragon in a heartbeat.

      The lack of seats or restraints would affect the surviveablity of splashdown.

      • The lack of seats or restraints would affect the surviveablity of splashdown.

        True, but it wouldn't necessarily preclude the survivability of a splashdown.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        The lack of seats or restraints would affect the surviveablity of splashdown.

        Why would a simple hammock not work to help increase survivability? I don't think it would necessarily be that hard, as a scuba tank + hammock may be all you would really need. The capsule already needed to be "man-rated" simply to dock to the ISS in the first place and certainly would contain air pressure.

        I'd certainly want to try and find as many "soft" items to survive re-entry in even the current Dragon capsule as opposed to trying to re-enter the way that the Columbia astronauts attempted re-entry.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Astronauts regularly claim unused cargo containers as private bedrooms. Apparently they're the quietest parts of the station by a wide margin (cooling the ISS is a noisy job, apparently) and thus make sleeping a lot easier.

      The Soyuz is a better option as a lifeboat (That's what it's designed to do) but you'll note today the undocking was completely automated. Eventually these will carry humans and possibly will carry the last humans off the space station when they deorbit the ISS in 10-20 years.

      • ... but you'll note today the undocking was completely automated. Eventually these will carry humans and possibly will carry the last humans off the space station when they deorbit the ISS in 10-20 years.

        I may be wrong, but I think the cargo Dragon's hatch needs to be closed and locked from the outside. Besides, SpaceX's feed says

        At 6:29AM PT, astronauts released Dragon, which is now on its way home to Earth. Over the next few hours, Dragon will complete a series of engine burns that place the spacecraft on a final trajectory to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere. The final deorbit burn is expected to occur at approx. 11:28AM PT, with splashdown targeted for 12:20PM PT.

        The Fancy Article says:

        Earlier Sunday, an astronaut aboard the floating laboratory detached and released the capsule using a robotic arm, kicking off its return to Earth.

        So they still had people on board the ISS operating the Canadarm. Where did you get the impression that the undocking was automated?

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          [blockquote]So they still had people on board the ISS operating the Canadarm. Where did you get the impression that the undocking was automated?[/blockquote]My source comes from the SpaceX employee who was narrating the live video feed of the automated undocking. They may have pushed the actual button for the final detach, but the process of moving the five ton spacecraft to it's final release location was automated. Astronauts were on hand to make sure nothing went awry.

    • Leaving it for a while as a lifeboat might be an idea for the future, but it might not be a bad idea either to go ahead and let it return its first time out, as a test.

      Plus, it's not like it's returning empty. I gather they're using it to ship some stuff back, and I expect they'd rather go ahead and get it landed.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @04:22PM (#41798779) Homepage

    An Anonymous Coward send word

    I are very happy to hear it.

  • by Captain_Chaos (103843) on Monday October 29, 2012 @05:50AM (#41802325)
    What happened to the satellite it was supposed to bring into orbit, but couldn't because one of the engines failed during lift off? Did they manage to get that in its proper orbit?
  • The stock TV news image of Sandy is from the ISS with the Dragon sticking off to one side.

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