Author Topic: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission  (Read 1400 times)

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Offline Buster's Uncle

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Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
By Tariq Malik | SPACE.com – 11 hrs ago.. .
 
This story was updated at 10:46 p.m. ET.

 
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A privately built rocket lit up the night sky over Florida Sunday (Oct. 7) to kick off the first-ever cargo delivery trip to the International Space Station by a robotic, American-made spacecraft.
 
The unmanned Dragon space capsule, built by the commercial spaceflight firm SpaceX, roared into space atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket from a launch pad here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, beginning a three-day flight to the space station. Liftoff occurred at 8:35 p.m. EDT (0035 Monday GMT).
 
The mission is the first of a dozen SpaceX cargo flights under a $1.6 billion deal with NASA for its Commercial Resupply Services program. This flight, being the first mission, is dubbed SpaceX CRS-1 and is expected to arrive at the orbiting lab on Wednesday morning (Oct. 7).
 
NASA space station program manager Mike Suffredini said Dragon's ability to launch supplies to the station and return cargo back to Earth is a cornerstone of boosting scientific research on the orbiting laboratory, as well as its day-to-day maintenance.
 
"Not to be overdramatic, but it's critical to the International Space Station," Suffredini said during the countdown to launch. [Photos: Dragon Launches on 1st Space Station Cargo Trip]
 
Sunday night's launch was nearly flawless. One of the Falcon 9 rocket nine engines apparently shut down unexpectedly during the ascent, but the booster's eight other engines compensated for the glitch and delivered the Dragon spacecraft into its intended orbit, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said after the flight. The rocket is designed to do exactly that in the event of an engine anomaly, she added.
 


An American spaceship rises
 
When NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011, it marked the first time in 30 years that the United States did not have an American spacecraft capable of flying missions to and from low-Earth orbit. NASA is relying on the availability of new private space taxis to deliver U.S. supplies, and ultimately astronauts, to the International Space Station.
 
Currently, the U.S. space agency depends on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry crews to the station, and sends cargo on various robotic spacecraft operated by space agencies in Russia, Japan and Europe. But those unmanned space freighters are not designed to return science experiments and other station gear back to Earth. Instead, the spacecraft are disposed of in Earth's atmosphere by burning up during re-entry.
 
That is where Dragon stands out.
 
The gumdrop-shaped spacecraft is designed not only to haul cargo to the International Space Station but also to return hardware and experiments back to Earth. Under its terms with NASA, SpaceX has pledged to launch at least 20 metric tons of supplies to the space station during its 12-flight deal.

Dragon in flight
 
In May, the Hawthorne, Calif.–based SpaceX launched a test flight to the station using a different Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule to prove that it was ready to begin making bona fide supply runs. The demonstration was a success, paving the way for Sunday night's launch.
 
"Every time we fly, we learn something," Shotwell said before launch. "We're a launch company; I'm excited every time we get to launch."
 
For the first operational Dragon cargo mission to the station, SpaceX and NASA packed the capsule with more than 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) of supplies, food and other vital gear for the station's current three-person Expedition 33 crew. Those supplies include a special delivery of ice cream for the astronauts, a late addition packed as a special treat.
 
The Dragon capsule will pull up to the station on Wednesday and be grappled by astronauts using the outpost's robotic arm so it can be attached to an available docking port. After nearly three weeks at the space station, Dragon will undock for a planned Oct. 28 splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California, where it will be retrieved by a SpaceX recovery crew. [6 Fun Facts About SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft]
 
The space station's three-person crew watched SpaceX's smooth Dragon launch live via a video feed beamed up by flight controllers. At the time of launch, the station was sailing 225 miles above Tasmania, NASA officials said.
 
"We are ready to grab Dragon!" the station's commander, U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, radioed down to Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston along with congratulations for the SpaceX team.
 
NASA also confirmed today that a piece of space junk that will fly near the station Monday won't interfere with the crew's work preparing for Dragon's arrival, agency officials said.
 
The Dragon capsule is expected to return more than 2,000 pounds (907 kg) of science experiment results and station hardware so they can be studied or — in the case of the hardware — upgraded or repaired, station managers said.
 
SpaceX's Dragon capsules are 14.4 feet tall (4.4 meters) and about 12 feet wide (3.6 m). They rely on two solar panels for power, making them the first American solar-powered spacecraft to visit the International Space Station.
 
SpaceX has also received NASA funding to develop a manned version of Dragon as part of the agency's private space taxi efforts. Building a vehicle capable of carrying astronauts into space has long been a goal of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who founded the company in 2002.
 
Shotwell said SpaceX expects to be ready to fly astronauts on Dragon spacecraft by 2015.
 


SpaceX is one of two companies with a NASA contract to provide unmanned cargo delivery flights to the space station. The other firm is the Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., which has a $1.9 billion deal for at least eight resupply flights to the station using its new Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. Unlike Dragon, Orbital's Cygnus is not designed to return supplies to Earth.
 
The first Antares rocket test flight is expected later this year from a launch site in Virginia.
 
Editor's Note: If you snap an amazing photo of SpaceX's launch of its Dragon capsule on Sunday, or spot the spacecraft in orbit, and would like to share it for a story or gallery, send images and details (including launch viewing location) to managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com.
 
Visit SPACE.com this week for complete coverage of SpaceX's first Dragon cargo flight to the International Space Station.
http://news.yahoo.com/liftoff-spacex-dragon-launches-1st-private-space-station-004533548.html

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 05:42:15 PM »
"unexpectedly shut down during flight"

Yeah, the word you are looking for is EXPLODED.  ~30 second mark. 

http://youtu.be/y6zsZiVa998

Auto cutoff fuel and rerouted to other engines to maintain lift.  Most info going to be proprietary and/or classified, but I'll see what I can dig up.  Best guess is either a nozzel problem or static buildup.  Joys of liquid engines. 
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 05:48:09 PM by Unorthodox »

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 05:51:33 PM »
Wow.  That's a heckofa thing to leave off the coverage.  Here's to modern journalism.  :salute:  -Why haven't I uploaded the sarcasm smilie already?

Good job that they engineered it to shake that off, mind you.  How seriously do you think the rest of the mission is impared?

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 08:37:56 PM »
The rest of THIS mission is probably fine.  It puts a question on future launches, depending on what they find.  Keeping in mind this is only the 4th launch of this missile, and while technically the launch is a 'success', it is a cause for some evaluation.  Indeed it is impressive that the backup systems worked.  That there's something you can't exactly lab test. 

To put in perspective the Taurus rocket (forerunner of the Anteres they are prepping for next month's Virgin launch) had 9 flights, 3 failures (as in total didn't make it to orbit failures).  2 identical failures on successive launches even.  Wasn't till the third failure they stopped getting missions for that rocket.  (my personal opinion why they changed the Taurus 2 tag to Anteres as well)   
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 08:54:40 PM by Unorthodox »

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2012, 08:53:57 PM »
Well, these things happen, and it IS really impressive that it made it.  Hopefully, NASA won't be a big, fat girl over a glitch in an unmanned launch - they tend to be more rational about those.

The cargo stuff is at least a good opportunity to get a lot of practice/testing on the system and save the hissy fits that go with people getting hurt.

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2012, 08:58:53 PM »
It is impressive, but not exactly revolutionary.  The Saturn rockets had the same design (in fact much of Space X is old liquid guys...) and lost engines on 2 of it's flights.  Liquids come with a higher risk than solids.  (Solids have no possibility for redundancy though)

The Falcon supposedly could have lost a second engine and still achieved orbit, according to the specs.  So, as long as they can twist this into a story about the impressive safety features of their rocket (as they are clearly trying to do), it should be fine. 

Anything to get us closer to the falcon heavy lift launch..

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2012, 09:00:11 PM »
Agreed.

I want these jokers to succeed.

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Private Rocket Suffered Slight Glitch During Sunday Cargo Launch
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2012, 09:12:46 PM »
Quote
Private Rocket Suffered Slight Glitch During Sunday Cargo Launch
By SPACE.com Staff | SPACE.com – 29 mins ago.. .

 
The rocket that lofted SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule to orbit Sunday night (Oct. 7) experienced a minor glitch during the successful launch, company officials say.
 
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly in one of its nine first-stage engines 79 seconds into the flight, which kicked off the first-ever bona fide private cargo mission to the International Space Station. The engine apparently lost pressure suddenly, at which point the Falcon 9 issued an engine shutdown command, officials said.
 
"We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it," SpaceX officials said in an update released Monday (Oct. 7). "Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9’s other eight engines were impacted by this event."
 
The Falcon 9 rocket then computed a new ascent profile and got Dragon into the proper orbit, officials said. The unmanned capsule is slated to rendezvous with the space station Wednesday morning (Oct. 10) as planned. [Photos: Dragon Launches on 1st Space Station Cargo Trip]
 


Skywatchers in parts of North America should be able to see Dragon as it chases down the orbiting lab on Monday and Tuesday evenings (Oct. 8 and 9). The two spacecraft will look like stars streaking across the twilight sky.
 
The Falcon 9 is designed to withstand such an engine loss and still complete its mission, SpaceX officials said. In this feature it's similar to NASA's huge Saturn 5 rocket, which launched astronauts to the moon during the agency's Apollo program. The Saturn 5 lost engines on two separate flights but still did its job.
 
The Dragon capsule is carrying about 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) of supplies and scientific experiments on the first of 12 scheduled supply flights that California-based SpaceX will make to the orbiting lab under a $1.6 billion NASA contract. Dragon will stay docked to the station until Oct. 28, when it will return to Earth with a load of experiments and station hardware.
 
SpaceX will keep investigating the glitch, officials said.
 
"We will continue to review all flight data in order to understand the cause of the anomaly, and will devote the resources necessary to identify the problem and apply those lessons to future flights," company officials said in today's update. "We will provide additional information as it becomes available."
 
Editor's Note: If you snapped an amazing photo of Dragon's launch on Sunday or spot the spacecraft in orbit and would like to share the picture for a story or gallery, send images and details (including viewing location) to managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com.
http://news.yahoo.com/private-rocket-suffered-slight-glitch-during-sunday-cargo-193858959.html

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2012, 09:25:20 PM »
"We know the engine did not explode"

"Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release"


Explode:
2. To burst violently as a result of internal pressure.


 :scratch:

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2012, 09:28:01 PM »
There was no ejection system for bad engines?  Explosive bolts, maybe?

Offline Unorthodox

Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2012, 09:33:23 PM »
"Engine" in this sense is little more than the nozzle on the end of a fuel tank.  The emergency simply cut off fuel. 

"Release of pressure" on a liquid engine...I don't know a lot about liquid engines, but it don't sound good and I would guess nozzle failure, again.  You lose that cone of flame, and it blasts the ferring.  I doubt we'll ever know more. 

Offline Buster's Uncle

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Re: Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2012, 09:54:30 PM »
Ah, it's 60's tech - it'll come out among those who really care enough to find out, probably within a month.

 

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