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ISS Space

SpaceX Launching Dragon Capsule to ISS Today 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck dept.
Today at 10:10am ET (15:10 UTC) SpaceX will be launching an unmanned Dragon capsule, perched atop a Falcon9 rocket, to the International Space Station. The capsule is filled with about 1,200 pounds of supplies for the ISS crew, and it is scheduled to arrive early Saturday morning. The return trip, on March 25, will bring over 2,000 pounds of cargo back to Earth when Dragon re-enters the atmosphere and falls into the Pacific Ocean. Both NASA and SpaceX are covering the launch live. For text and pictures, you can watch on SpaceX Launch Central or NASA's launch blog. For streaming video, check out NASA TV. Spaceflight Now has both, and their live updates provide a bit more detail. SpaceX's press kit for the mission (PDF) explains how the launch will proceed: "At 1 minute, 10 seconds after liftoff, Falcon 9 reaches supersonic speed. The vehicle will pass through the area of maximum aerodynamic pressure—max Q—15 seconds later. This is the point when mechanical stress on the rocket peaks due to a combination of the rocket’s velocity and resistance created by the Earth’s atmosphere. Around 170 seconds into the flight, two of the first-stage engines will shut down to reduce the rocket’s acceleration. (Its mass, of course, has been continually dropping as its propellants are being used up.) The remaining engines will cut off around 3 minutes into the flight—an event known as main-engine cutoff, or MECO. At this point, Falcon 9 is 80 kilometers (50 miles) high, traveling at 10 times the speed of sound. Five seconds after MECO, the first and second stages will separate. Seven seconds later, the second stage’s single Merlin vacuum engine ignites to begin a 6-minute burn that brings Falcon 9 and Dragon into low-Earth orbit."
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SpaceX Launching Dragon Capsule to ISS Today

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  • milestone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:14AM (#43044647)

    This feels bigger and more important than a few communications satellites. Godspeed, Dragon!

    • by xclr8r (658786)
      Just saw this tweeted. SpaceX founder and CEO just tweeted: "Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override." I wonder how this differs from NASA protocols.
      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:10PM (#43046447)

        SpaceX founder and CEO just tweeted: "Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override."

        According to reliable inside sources, the Dragon capsule responded: "I'm sorry, Elon. I'm afraid I can't do that."

  • Good luck Dragon!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:25AM (#43044719)

    Looking forward to SpaceX making these flights "routine" (or at least as routine as spaceflight gets), and then scale up -- they've been having issues raising their production and launch rate up until now.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Is that a production issue or a lack of sales issue?
      My understanding was sales were limited until they could prove the product.

  • Anybody knows why they'll carry so much cargo back? [yes, please google that for me]

    • by skade88 (1750548)
      Old experiments that need to go back. Trash they did not throw out the window.... etc...
      • by macson_g (1551397)
        The windows on the space station are difficult to open due to the pressure of AEther.
      • by Nutria (679911)

        Why don't they toss their garbage bags down towards earth? Wouldn't it enter the atmosphere within a few weeks and burn up?

        • Why don't they toss their garbage bags down towards earth? Wouldn't it enter the atmosphere within a few weeks and burn up?

          Orbital mechanics doesn't work that way. Throwing them "down" would cause them to go into a more elliptical orbit that could eventually take the garbage bags above the station with a downward vector. They could wind up hitting the station itself, and maybe damaging it.

          You have to throw the garbage bags behind you so that they no longer have the velocity to be in the same orbit as you.

          • by Nutria (679911)

            You have to throw the garbage bags behind you so that they no longer have the velocity to be in the same orbit as you.

            That (actually, down/back at a 45Â angle) was my second thought.

    • by T_Tauri (883646)
      Supplies, equipment and medical samples are coming back. Can't find any more specific details...

      From http://www.spacex.com/webcast/ [spacex.com] just now...
    • Downmass is an important capability nobody else can do (much of)

    • Re:cargo (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slew (2918) on Friday March 01, 2013 @10:39AM (#43045361)

      Anybody knows why they'll carry so much cargo back? [yes, please google that for me]

      I'm sure you are familiar with the concept of conservation of mass. What do you think they do with the mass they launch up there? convert it to energy using a Mr. Fusion? Or do you think they would just jettison 2000lbs into some random orbit? One of the biggest logistical challenges the ISS has, is that w/o the Space Shuttle, there has been limited "downmass" capability.

      Although most of the downmass is the results of experiements and broken/obsolete equipment, all the garbage and of course the "digested" food they take up there need to come back down to the ground too. Just like camping in many remote national parks, if you pack it in, you must pack it out (poop included).

      • by dmbasso (1052166)

        I'm sure you are familiar with the concept of conservation of mass. What do you think they do with the mass they launch up there?

        I thought they would just keep most of the stuff there. It's not like they lack... space. And yes, I know it means more energy for attitude control, but it also means longer periods without activations, right?

        Or do you think they would just jettison 2000lbs into some random orbit?

        No, they could throw it back to Earth. Obviously not at once, but in small burnable-on-reentry packets.

        One of the biggest logistical challenges the ISS has, is that w/o the Space Shuttle, there has been limited "downmass" capability.

        Although most of the downmass is the results of experiements and broken/obsolete equipment, all the garbage and of course the "digested" food they take up there need to come back down to the ground too. Just like camping in many remote national parks, if you pack it in, you must pack it out (poop included).

        Difference is my poop doesn't incinerate itself if I trow it over the cliff. The case of broken/obsolete (and large or toxic) equipment and of experiment results are the only that make sense to me. Or

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Difference is there's no "cliff" from which to throw the poop, they have to accelerate the poop until it gets into an orbit where it interacts with the atmosphere.

          Before making further comments about space, i'd recommend playing Kerbal Space Program some.

          • by Nutria (679911)

            Difference is there's no "cliff" from which to throw the poop, they have to accelerate the poop until it gets into an orbit where it interacts with the atmosphere.

            If you give a bag of shite a nudge down towards earth, why doesn't the bag keep moving (Newton's First Law) towards the Earth and then burn up in the atmosphere?

            • by Barryke (772876)

              Have you ever seen gravity being explained with a bowlingball on a trampoline? There is your answer. If you shoot a marble into a smaller orbit, it'll have an ellipse orbit and so it might hit ISS again.

              • by Nutria (679911)

                If you shoot a marble

                How elliptical? If highly so, then shouldn't it intersect with the atmosphere (thus burning up) in it's first orbit?

      • by oobayly (1056050)

        Well, for biological un-recyclable stuff, could you not fire it retrograde at 79m/s. That should get it to into an orbit with perogee of 100km.

        What could possibly go wrong!

      • The Russians take the garbage out to burn up on re-entry. Dragon will bring stuff they don't want to burn up.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The full manifest of return cargo is posted here:

      http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/005/returnmanifest.html

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @09:44AM (#43044861)

    The world is an increasingly disappointing place. But stories like this are just awesome. Let's just step back here, the story is about a fully automated rocket developed and launched for cheap by a private company, which is going to perform an automated docking procedure with a gigantic orbiting station to resupply its international crew of astronauts from countries who once blew eachother to bits but have somehow managed to remain largely peaceful for 60-70 years.

    And it's routine enough by now that I had to click to expand the story on /.

    Wow. Freaking badass.

    • Don't forget, you observed the story on an electronic device capable of downloading this story, associated videos, and inane commentary from across the country or the world, and receive it wirelessly on your end, and you probably had the gall to complain about download speed.
    • If you actually read the history and ignore the news papers, then you may realize that the USA has never been at war with Russia. In all the real wars, Russia was an ally.
  • Both the launch company and congressman may have cle-in tickets.
    I did this a couple years ago. we were at the standard press area about 3 miles away. The rocket flare was much brighter than i had anticipated- almost too bright to watch. However it was quieter than I had thought.
  • by jcgam69 (994690) on Friday March 01, 2013 @10:30AM (#43045273)
    In the comments that followed the launch, after orbital insertion, a problem was reported with the Dragon capsule. The downlink from the spacecraft was broken. No further details were provided.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override.

    • by jcgam69 (994690)
      SpaceX founder and CEO just tweeted: "Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override." Solar array deployment was delayed while engineers attempt to regain attitude control of Dragon.
  • by guttentag (313541) on Friday March 01, 2013 @10:30AM (#43045285) Journal
    Rumor has it John Broder is about to release a story that claims Dragon won't make it all the way to the space station. The capsule SpaceX lent him died somewhere in Connecticut and had to be towed back to Cape Canaveral. Alleged leaked picture here [abcnews.com]. No word on whether Musk will issue a rebuttal.
    • Sadly it looks like you're not completely wrong. Word is that the solar panels haven't deployed. It seems that they're trying to figure out if the module has enough battery power to attempt an ISS docking anyway. I don't know if the spacecraft has an ability to charge from the ISS, or if they would conceivably attempt a spacewalk to deploy the panels, but I'm sure they wouldn't risk stranding a capsule with flat batteries on one of the ISS's docking rings.


  • from "Spaceflight Now"
    FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013
    1527 GMT (10:27 a.m. EST)
    "It appears that although it achieved Earth orbit, Dragon is experiencing some kind problem right now," said John Insprucker, SpaceX's Falcon 9 product manager. We'lll have to learn about the nature of what happened. According to procedure, we expect a press conference to be held a few hours from now. At that time, further info may be available."

    FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013
    1524 GMT (10:24 a.m. EST)
    ANOMALY. SpaceX is reporting some type of a

    • FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013
      1543 GMT (10:43 a.m. EST)
      SpaceX founder and CEO just tweeted: "Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override." Solar array deployment was delayed while engineers attempt to regain attitude control of Dragon.
      • by alien9 (890794)
        Solar array deployment successful.

      • FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013
        1736 GMT (12:36 p.m. EST)
        A NASA official says three Dragon thruster pods are required to approach the International Space Station.
        FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2013
        1726 GMT (12:26 p.m. EST)
        The Dragon spacecraft's Draco thrusters are mounted on four pods. Two of the pods contain five thrusters and the other two contain four thrusters. According to SpaceX, the pods are positioned to provide complete control of the spacecraft's direction of motion (X, Y and Z axis), as well as orientation (roll, p
        • All four thruster pods are now online and fully operational. They are transferring to a higher orbit as of 20 minutes ago according to Elon on Twitter.

          Elon Musk â@elonmusk

          Thruster pods one through four are now operating nominally. Preparing to raise orbit. All systems green.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apparently 3 of the 4 thruster pods didn't turn on, they are going to give a remote kick to make it get going. Failing that they'll send up Jeremy Clarkson to push it to the ISS

  • by blueturffan (867705) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:55AM (#43046259)

    Musk just tweeted that the solar arrays have been deployed. I assume that means that they have at least two thruster pods working and are able to maintain attitude control of the Dragon.

    It will be interesting to learn the cause of the anomaly.

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