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Video Elon Musk Shows off the Dragon Capsule, Back From Space (Video) 106

Elon Musk appeared Wednesday at SpaceX's testing facility in McGregor, Texas — not far from Waco — along with NASA administrator Charles Bolden, to show off the recovered Dragon capsule that recently launched from Cape Canaveral to the ISS. He says the SpaceX Grasshopper reusable lift vehicle will start testing in a few months, and that once it's in service the cost of a flight to orbit may cost as little as 1/100 as much as it costs today. According to Musk, fuel is only a tiny part of what a space launch costs; boosters and other expensive items that currently only get used once are the main budget-busters. (Note that the Scaled Composites Space Ship Two also relies on a reusable first stage — and that theirs saves both fuel and wear & tear by using aerodynamic lift, AKA wings, for the first 50,000 feet.)
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Elon Musk Shows off the Dragon Capsule, Back From Space (Video)

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  • "AKA wings" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2012 @05:44PM (#40328997)

    It's not quite that simple though. That method doesn't hand over the ballistic momentum that a rocket first stage does.

    For those curious about 'wing launch', don't skip over the shuttle freighters. 747 are a massive piece of kit, originally designed as freighters. The big load of the shuttle limited their ceiling to only 15,000'.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuttle_Carrier_Aircraft [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @05:57PM (#40329131) Homepage

    I know this is a problem, and I imagine smart people are trying to figure something out.

    That said, I can't help but marvel at the shrinking cost-to-LEO. Just a year ago I was talking to someone at a company that does tubeSat launches for $8,000. That's the launch and the satellite. And I heard that SpaceX does CubeSat launches on their Falcon 9 rockets.

    Now I don't know if the cost reductions would translate directly to that kind of mission, but if they can get the cost down to anywhere near 1/100, putting a satellite up will be easily within reach for an individual tinkerer. To me, that's just amazing... that you can put your own little satellite in space (for a short time), and not even be crushed if something goes wrong.

    Found the $8k one...
    http://interorbital.com/TubeSat_1.htm [interorbital.com]

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