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Space Science

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon Make It To Orbit 200

jnaujok writes "This morning the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon capsule lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 10:43 Eastern time, after an earlier launch had been scrubbed because of a bad telemetry feed. A little over 9 minutes later, the Dragon capsule separated from the second stage into its intended orbit. Part of the COTS (Commercial access To Space) program, this is the first test of the Dragon capsule by SpaceX to prove it can be used to ferry supplies to the ISS. The Dragon capsule will make two or three orbits before returning to Earth about four hours after launch."
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SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon Make It To Orbit

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  • Fucking sweet! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lilith's Heart-shape ( 1224784 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:43PM (#34488512) Homepage
    It's about time the private sector took to the stars.
  • Cost per pound (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:48PM (#34488576) Journal

    First, I find this very exciting. As a child, I thought it would be just a matter of time before I could buy a plane ticket to the moon. That is how space was advertised to us in the early 70's... It has not turned out that way, but I am excited to see some progress.

    What I would love to see is total cost per pound of payload. It seems like NASA hasn't done much to lower than number over the past three decades, and am curious to know what efficiencies Space X has attained. Anyone know where to find this info?

  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:06PM (#34488876) Journal

    I didn't get around to making this a separate submission, but I figure folks might be interested in another SpaceX-related news item from an interview with Elon Musk. As some of you know, Congress has mandated that NASA construct a super-heavy lift rocket (at least 75mt payload) by 2016. This is expected to use cost-plus contracts, utilize as many Shuttle components/workers as possible, and is expected to cost at least $10B.

    SpaceX has another (IMHO much better) proposal [], though, which would be to build a 150mt rocket that's essentially an upgrade of the rocket which was launched today. This rocket would be able to lift heavier payloads than the Saturn V. SpaceX proposed to do this with a $2.5B fixed-price contract, where SpaceX eats any cost above this amount. Some remarks from Musk on this: []

    He's even starting to think ahead to the next giant leap -- the development of a super-heavy-lift rocket, more powerful than the Apollo era's Saturn 5, which could put 150 metric tons of payload into Earth orbit. Musk said facilities in Utah, Alabama, Ohio, Florida and other places around the country could be involved in the project, and he's willing to build the rocket for $2.5 billion. "Anything above that, SpaceX will pay for," he promised. ...
    Musk said his $2.5 billion figure for a super-heavy-lift rocket was based in part on the concept that 80 percent of the money Congress is expected to devote to heavy-lift development would go toward the standard cost-plus method for funding spacecraft development, with 20 percent going to the kind of fixed-price, milestone-based approach that is being used for the NASA program that's funding SpaceX's effort. "I find myself in this bizarre position where people are saying, 'You couldn't possibly do it for such a low amount as $2.5 billion,'" he said. "And actually, I have trouble trying to figure out how we'd spend so much money. In order to get to $2.5 billion, I'd have to assume that a whole bunch of things go horribly wrong during the development process."

  • by joh ( 27088 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:36PM (#34489360)

    > supply and personnel lines to the ISS are secured

    You do know that other nations have been supplying the ISS for a long time now? This is about the US being able to match their capabilities, not about "securing supply to the ISS".

    Another thing is that there is *no* serious downmass capacity without the Shuttle. Soyuz can only return very little cargo and ATV just burns up in the atmosphere. Dragon can return tons. This is important for returning experiments and also defective equipment (to analyse why it actually failed).

    Anyway, SpaceX is one of the very few good news with spaceflight lately.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @03:06PM (#34490872) Homepage Journal
    Incidentally, on-orbit fuel depots is one of the fundamental technologies that Obama and Bolden's proposed NASA budget called for the development of. Say what you will about Obama, but I really think he got the space budget thing right, or, at least, righter than most politicians tend to.
  • by u17 ( 1730558 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @03:07PM (#34490892)

    IIRC, it's the only current launch system that can take some satellites up

    It's the only current launch system that can take some satellites down.

  • Re:It's 2010 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @03:20PM (#34491130) Homepage Journal
    No, we don't. Because those of us with a sense of context know that this 1950's technology is going to make spaceflight much cheaper for everyone involved. We also know that the CEO of the company that just achieved this milestone intends to retire on Mars. I would say that these types of tests, therefore, help him get one step closer to that dream and, therefore, they are newsworthy. Finally, it demonstrates the abilities of a company that, ostensibly, will be selling access to space independent of government funding and, therefore, gerrymandered and corrupt political decisions. This is very newsworthy, especially to us nerds.

    Now go back to trolling on Reddit or something.

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