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Space ISS NASA Transportation

SpaceX Dragon Set To Launch 111

SpaceX's first regular launch to the International Space Station is set to go off at 8:35 (Eastern time) Sunday evening; the first SpaceX launch to successfully reach the ISS was more of a test, though it did bring some goodies to the crew. Wired has a live video feed in place. Slashdot reader Lee Sheridan is in Florida for the launch; if you're one of the billion Facebook users, his photos of the mission briefing and Falcon 9 lift vehicle being lifted to vertical are public. The SpaceX twitter feed might be fun to watch, too. Update: 10/08 00:09 GMT by T : Bonus points for intelligent parsing of the acronym-laden communications on the live feed.
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SpaceX Dragon Set To Launch

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:17PM (#41580483)

    I get that there's plenty of room to play with the phrase, "commerical space flight", and SpaceX is certainly doing that. And I won't be the one to kick off the typical slashdot thread o' pedantry, as I suspect you're just being passive-aggresive about it. We both know the score.

    What I will say is that I'm excited about it all. I think spacex in particular is ambitious and capable enough to do exciting things. I like that NASA is doing increasingly impressive exploratory work instead of spending all their time and money on shuttling food and clothing. And I agree that a lot of this stuff should have been done a long time ago... but it wasn't, and now it is. That's something.

  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:15PM (#41581101) Homepage Journal

    And if the boot sequence itself still doesn't impress you, at least you can say you were alive to see the dawn of commercial computers.

    While it was before my time, the dawn of commercial computers was a big deal. There also was a time that only government agencies like the U.S. Army (who helped pay for the ENIAC [] and in part the COLOSSUS [] as well) even owned computers. A rather infamous declaration by an early computer pioneer declared that the worldwide demand for computers was exactly five.

    Even so, I remember a field trip in kindergarten where I took a trip to a computer and walked inside ('look but don't touch"). It seems funny to talk about such things today or that a field trip to see a computer would even be remarkable, but I do find this stuff to be incredibly fascinating.

    I can only hope that multi-ton launches to orbital space stations will some day be as remarkable as seeing a jet aircraft take off from an airport. Perhaps inspiring sights, but common and every day experiences too.

  • Re:Simplicity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Teancum ( 67324 ) <[ten.orezten] [ta] [gninroh_trebor]> on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:49AM (#41582703) Homepage Journal

    SpaceX is one of the first to use TCP/IP for internal component control on rockets, but the protocol is pretty solid and "off the shelf" components can be easily had. Since they are starting with literally a clean sheet, they could have used almost anything.... and Elon Musk was very comfortable with TCP/IP as a protocol.

    There are other bus protocols that are made available to payloads... as required by the customer and the mission. External interfaces for those buses can be made available to ground support teams just prior to launch as well and is a part of the Falcon design. The Dragon capsule in particular meets not just the physical docking standards for the ISS, but also has the necessary power and data bus connectors as well for compatibility with the ISS module standards.

    A nice side effect of the TCP/IP protocol is that they can use fiber optic connectors to isolate controllers electrically... which also cuts down on the weight of the vehicle as well. There certainly is no thick bus cable full of copper going the full length of the rocket, which is the case for legacy rockets.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @07:47AM (#41583403)

    The Space Shuttle carried 28,000lbs to the International Space Station for about $400 million per launch.

    LOL you wish it was that cheap. You took total contract cost divided by number of missions for spaceX, why not for space shuttle? Because the numbers don't match your axe to grind. Here I'll do the data gathering and division for you:

    From wikipedia "The actual total cost of the shuttle program through 2011, adjusted for inflation, is $196 billion." (this is pure BS, to "do it all over again" would easily cost over 300B, but I'll use the artificially low PR/marketing BS number for the sake of this argument) divided by 135 missions (unsure how to account for disasters) yields 1.452 billion dollars per 28K lb mission absolute minimum, real world is going to be much more.

    So you're looking at 1.6B vs 1.5B, not much of a difference given "nasa accounting" thats a rounding error.

    There are serious issues why the shuttle program had to end which began in the 80s, so its pointless to debate what if we continued it. For example we lost about 1 shuttle per 50 flights, and the production lines shut down permanently in the 80s. So if we launch until they're all destroyed, we soon would have no launch capability at all, and merely have to farm out to spaceX later, and the only thing waiting does is make stuff more expensive. I suppose we could R+D and reopen the production lines to build more 1970 era space shuttle orbiters, but that will absolutely explode program cost above the "cheap" 1.5B per launch. Or we could R+D even more and build new 2010 era space shuttle orbiters, that would probably be overall a bit cheaper but still boost program cost above 1.5B.

    If you wanted to continue the shuttle program, that decision had to be made in the 80s when the last orbiter rolled off the assembly line and the clock started ticking on the program shutdown. Sunday Oct 07 2012 is a bit late to the party to decide the orbiter production line should have been kept open back in April of 1985. First, build a time machine and go back more than a quarter century...

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp