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Space Transportation Science

SpaceX's Dragon Module Successfully Re-Enters 156

Zitchas writes "Following the news of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon module on-board, and its arrival on orbit, we now have the news that is has successfully re-entered the atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific. As their website proudly claims, this is the first time a private corporation has recovered a spacecraft they orbited, joining the ranks of a few space nations and the EU space agency. A great step forward for space travel. Hopefully everything continues to go well for them."
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SpaceX's Dragon Module Successfully Re-Enters

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  • Re:Assumption proven (Score:5, Interesting)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @09:20AM (#34513252)

    It's normal to assume that what was done by governments before will one day be done by commercial companies.

    Agree completely. Buchenwald, for example.

  • by CompressedAir ( 682597 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @09:26AM (#34513280)

    The POIC (and probably every other NASA center with a TV) had the launch up on the big screen. Scott Kelly, the USOS crew on the ISS right now, took a break and watched it live on the feed we sent up to him between LOS's.

    Scott asked CAPCOM to give the SpaceX team his congratulations on a successful launch. We in the ISS community are doubly excited: not only is it great to see such a flawless launch, but the Dragon/Falcon 9 is key to our future logistics and science return!

    Well done, SpaceX.

  • Re:Assumption proven (Score:4, Interesting)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday December 10, 2010 @05:10PM (#34518142)

    I don't see the incremental steps between low earth orbit and serious interplanetary travel. The jump between them is huge, both literally in the distance you must travel, and figuratively, in the types of engineering challenges that need to be solved. And there's not many places worth stopping on the way.

    Let's just look at the incremental possibilities just from a space tourism point of view:

    1) Suborbital space tourism - a few minutes of zero gravity. Can be grown into a new, faster alternative to air flight.
    2) Orbital space tourism - hours to weeks to years in orbit. Also, provides a big opportunity for zero gravity space science.
    3) Lunar orbit - relatively easy once you've mastered Earth orbit. Swing some tourists on a trip around around the Moon and back.

    4) Lunar trips to surface - the first trips might be a few hours, but eventually extending to stays of weeks or longer.
    5) Trips to near Earth asteroids - these targets have relatively low delta-v. Once you've mastered living in deep space (outside of Earth's magnetic field) for weeks and have rockets that can get you to lunar orbit and back, you're pretty much ready for a trip to one of the many nearby asteroids.

    At this point, you can start trying in situ resource utilization, that is, living off the land. Both the Moon and asteroids provide raw materials that a hotel or outpost could use to replace some m0aterial shipped from Earth. You've also have figured out radiation shielding, closed life support, and other issues of long term living in deep space.

    6) Mars orbit - even if you can't figure out how to land safely, you can still reach Mars orbit and visit the Martian moons.
    7) Mars landing - land and live on another world.
    8) Asteroid belt - only marginally more difficult than Mars to reach. Trojan asteroids are a bit harder again.

    At this point, you should be able to fly by all the major planets out to Jupiter or perhaps Saturn. With fission power, you probably can visit any point currently known in the Solar System.

    There are a series of incremental steps taking tourists to the Moon, Mars, NEAs, and beyond. The really hard part is just getting established in low Earth orbit and figuring out how to live indefinitely in space without immediate access to Earth supply.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling