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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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  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @12:55PM (#34488700) Homepage Journal
    while driving to work this morning. I was like, Fuck Yeah!

    This was accomplished by Elon Musk using only a few hundred million$ of Paypal money. Now imagine what Bill Gates could be doing with the billions he's supposed to be giving away.
  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:12PM (#34488986) Journal

    This excites me. At first I was all like "Wait, so whats going on. Who's doing this? US? Europe? Japan? Whos launching stuff now? But then a bit of further reading of the summary, the mention of COTS, put it into perspective. I had not heard of SpaceX before now. The only commercial endeavours into space I had previously heard of were Virgin with its probable Touristy trips up into LEO for a bit, with possible plans to do very expensive trips to the ISS in the future.

    Seeing more companies take up the struggle that is space flight makes me glad, for a number of reasons. For all the reasons capitalism is fraught with problems, its nice if and when competition DOES happen, it'd be nice to know that in maybe 10 years, while space station trips would probably be too expensive, its possible that just getting in orbit might be something one might afford in their lifetime. You know, how right now getting into space is kind of like being a rock star, you have to be severely lucky. Right now, owning a brand new corvette is difficult but if thats what you really want its not impossible for someone with a regular paying job to save up for one. That's what I'd like to see, trips to space, while obviously are always going to be relatively expensive, I want to know that those people who dream of being up there not only have the possibility to - but there will also be jobs related to that field.

    It used to be that if you wanted to work on space technology (in North America), you had to work at NASA. Well it seems I could now apply at a few different companies to work on that kind of stuff. And that's exciting. More jobs in the field means more research, more activity, more growth. And Space exploration is one field that is exciting for Growth. I mean it kind of sucks when NASA's budget gets cut, but if Taxpayer money can go towards other things while Corporate America foots the bill for Space travel, well I have no problems with that.

    So yes. This is good news. Obviously its not quite at the stages that I describe, but we're getting there. Baby steps.

    As a side note, I know some people don't see the idea in space travel, that we should be trying to fix this planet before going and ruining another one. My thoughts on that are like cleaning viruses off of a Hard Drive. It's a lot easier when I'm not on it. If saving Earth requires a massive reduction in human population, then either a nomadic or far away colony is an optimal solution.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:30PM (#34489278) Homepage

    The Dragon will carry up to seven passengers. Soyuz is good for only three. It's also good to have at least two different kinds of passenger craft. The freight model Dragon also has a much larger capacity than the Progress (though smaller than that of the ATV). It has both pressurized and unpressurized compartments, and I believe it can handle larger (though not heavier) objects than the ATV can. It can also return cargo to Earth. Thus it does not merely duplicate existing capabilities (once the shuttles retire).

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:31PM (#34489302) Homepage Journal
    And, just to round off the fleet, SpaceX has already drafted up plans for a Heavy Lift launcher (see here []) that could compete directly with ULA's Delta IV Heavy, the Arianne V, and whatever the Russians will be using for a heavy launcher in the next few years.
  • by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2010 @01:39PM (#34489416)

    I think the most exciting thing is using Dragon as part of a beyond-LEO mission, but not necessarily sending it there. The idea of what Buzz calls 'real spaceships' -- large vehicles assembled on orbit or launched on large non-man-rated vehicles that can be refueled on orbit. Dragon et. al. would be the taxis to get you to LEO.

    The fuel costs to this approach would be higher -- Apollo didn't have to burn its engines to get back into Earth orbit, it dropped all its energy during its direct re-entry. However, a large, comfortable refuel-able lunar ferry that astronauts reach in a cheap capsule like Dragon could be much cheaper and more sustainable in the long run, particularly if concepts like orbiting fuel depots get off the ground. Fuel could be launched separately and cheaply by those crazy space gun concepts that subject the payload to 100s of Gs.

    While it all sounds a little farfetched, it seems more likely to happen than getting congress to fund an Apollo class effort. This is how we go other places to stay.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...