Entries in Dragon (3)


SpaceX Dragon Heading Back to Earth

NASA(HOUSTON) -- The SpaceX Dragon capsule is making its way back to Earth after becoming the first commercial spacecraft to successfully dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

The Dragon is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean off Los Angeles at 11:44 a.m. ET on Thursday.

Early Thursday morning, the capsule was released from the space station's robotic arm.

"Dragon is free from the International Space Station.  The crew backing away the robotic arm," Mission Control said.

The Dragon launched into space last Tuesday and arrived at the ISS on May 25 to deliver a half-ton of food and other supplies.  The capsule was also carrying the ashes of 308 people -- including James Doohan, who played Scotty in the original Star Trek series, and American astronaut Gordon Cooper -- which were in a cannister and jettisoned into space.

The milestone launch was NASA's first attempt to outsource its missions to privately-funded companies, in this case, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

Up to now, deliveries in manned rockets have been handled by the European Union, Japan, Russia and the U.S.  Last year, NASA retired its shuttle program after 30 years in anticipation of such private and international missions.

SpaceX, a Hawthorne, California-based company, has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to make 12 trips to the ISS.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dragon Links With Space Station

Earth // Comstock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The first privately funded capsule has docked at the International Space Station.

The unmanned capsule brought one thousand pounds of supplies to astronauts, Donald Pettit and Andre Kuipers, who caught the ship with a robotic arm on Friday. When caught, Pettit told mission control in Houston, “"Looks like we've got us a dragon by the tail.”

The astronauts plan to spend Memorial Day unloading the cargo from the ship.

Space X Dragon is a spacecraft developed by SpaceX, a company located in Hawthorne, CA. Dragon is primarily designed to carry supplies, not passengers. On their website, SpaceX explains their mission, “SpaceX aims to change this paradigm by developing a family of launch vehicles which will ultimately reduce the cost and increase the reliability of space access by a factor of ten.”

On Saturday, Flight Engineer, Don Pettit, explained the significance of this ship by comparing it to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, “It was celebrated or commemorated by driving in a golden spike.  And, this is kind of the equivalent of the golden spike.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Flies Safely

Photo Courtesy - Michael Altenhofen | SpaceX(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared successfully into the sky from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday morning, carrying a stubby spacecraft called Dragon. Three hours later, Dragon splashed down in the Pacific Ocean -- the first privately-owned ship ever to return safely from Earth's orbit.

"It was just mind-blowingly awesome," said Elon Musk, the Internet entrepreneur who founded SpaceX with money he made from the sale of PayPal.

Amid the plaudits -- Bill Nye, the head of the Planetary Society, said, "Falcon 9 nailed it!" -- there was a humbling reality: SpaceX managed to replicate a feat NASA's Mercury program first accomplished back in 1961. But today's NASA, searching for a clear mission and worried about its budget in a tough economy, badly needs for companies like SpaceX to succeed.

If everything goes well, cargo ships like the Dragon will take the place of NASA's own ships in ferrying supplies to and from the International Space Station. Private enterprise, it's been argued, can do the job more cheaply and efficiently than government, with its layers of bureaucracy.

Eventually, SpaceX says it would like Dragon to be able to carry astronauts as well. The cone-shaped capsule is large enough, and the company is working on equipment to make it safe enough for human passengers.

It also has competitors, including such aerospace giants as Lockheed Martin, which has announced it hopes to fly the Orion capsule from NASA's now-cancelled Constellation project to send explorers to the moon and Mars.

If SpaceX has more successful tests, it says it could start making trips to the space station in three years. Privately-launched supply ships would free up NASA to follow President Obama's orders, developing more advanced technologies to take astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s, and perhaps Mars in the decade after that.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio