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Video At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship Takes Off (Video) 137

Tuesday morning at 0344, right on schedule (and it had to be right on schedule), Elon Musk's baby finally left the launch pad on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). Two babies, actually: the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is what we watched as it took off from Cape Canaveral -- the first private spaceship headed for the ISS -- with the Dragon spacecraft perched on its nose. The Dragon carried over 1000 pounds of supplies and experiments for the ISS. The launch went off without a hitch. But don't stop holding your breath quite yet; Dragon isn't scheduled to dock at the ISS until Friday.
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At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship Takes Off (Video)

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  • Popping sound (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:00PM (#40081701)

    After watching both this and Copenhagen Suborbital's launch, I noticed that the rockets seem to "pop" at a few Hz. I don't recall hearing this on NASA launches, does anyone know why this is?

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:36PM (#40081947)

    I think the other difference is that the company built the vehicle without providing the design spec. A private company built a product as best as it could instead of delivering a product 'to-spec'. Which admittedly to-spec has created some great vehicles like the Delta-IV. And a Delta-IV isn't *that* much more expensive to launch. We just didn't pay for its design and testing this time.

  • by fgodfrey ( 116175 ) <fgodfrey@bigw.org> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:04PM (#40082123) Homepage

    It only takes about 10 minutes to get to orbit. I believe the Shuttle and the Progress & Soyuz spacecraft all took about 2 days to dock with ISS. I believe most of that time is spent matching the orbits perfectly and "catching up" with it in orbit (you don't want to approach too fast and slowing down requires fuel, and fuel is weight so you want to use as little as feasible).

    Dragon is taking awhile longer because this is only the second time that the Dragon has flown and the first time docking. So, they're going to run a whole bunch of tests to ensure that they can control the spacecraft from the ground and then a bunch more to make sure the astronauts on the ISS can control it. Then, finally, they'll let it get close enough to dock. I suspect (though I have no actual information on this) that once they get past the "test flight" phase, it will take a similar amount to time to Soyuz/Progress/Shuttle to get there.

  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:13PM (#40082173) Homepage Journal

    In the past, the vehicles have been turned over to NASA (or other relevant space agency) whereas here, SpaceX has maintained ownership of the launch vehicle and capsule. It's one of the reasons that NASA has been so paranoid over the launch is because it has less direct control of it.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:29PM (#40082565) Journal

    I know you think you'e being clever, but the fact is that NASA worked very hard to prevent any private development of space flight capabilities for several decades.


  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:19PM (#40082751) Homepage Journal

    AC gets it right.

    Also, add in that SpaceX is willing to eat any cost overruns. The other "private companies" (government contractors are no such thing) continue to demand additional funds if there are cost overruns.

    When SpaceX is allowed to have their own spaceport, and they're launching a new rocket every day of the week for five years straight to meet demand for a $500,000 trip to Mars, NASA won't even be in the picture.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @02:53AM (#40084267)

    A corporations is run as a far more strict command economy than the likes of the soviet union had ever seen. That does not make it inherently inefficient.

    Actually, yes it does. The calculation argument Ludwig von Mises leveled aganst the Soviet Union can also be used to explain the bloated inefficiency of major corporations, as Kevin Carson has demonstrated. The bigger a company gets, the further its command structure is removed from inputs, and so it grows more irrational until it cannot function capably under its own power. Such entities require outside assistance and defence from competition to survive at all.

      You hear lots about economies of scale, but most people don't realize that there are diseconomies of scale, too; and without massive outside support in the form of regulations, licensing barriers, and outright bailouts, these diseconomies are insurmountable.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer