Entries in SpaceX Falcon 9 (4)


SpaceX Dragon Capsule Returns to Earth

NASA(HOUSTON) -- The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, descending under three large parachutes, safely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean south of San Diego on Thursday, NASA said, successfully ending the first-ever commercial flight to the International Space Station.

"Splashdown! Welcome home #Dragon!" said SpaceX on its Twitter feed. The landing, monitored at NASA's Mission Control in Houston and SpaceX control in Hawthorne, Calif., took place at 8:42 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The ship had unberthed from the space station four hours earlier and fired its engines Thursday morning to slow itself from orbit.

NASA tweeted, "@SpaceX #Dragon capsule safely down in Pacific Ocean -- ending first mission by a commercial company to resupply the #ISS."

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It was a nine-day flight. The Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station before dawn on May 22, carrying 1,100 pounds of supplies for the station -- and, more important, the hopes for a new way of doing space travel.

The SpaceX flight was, in many ways, routine. It brought 1,100 pounds of supplies to the space station, something American space shuttles and Russian Progress capsules started doing when the first components of the station were launched in 1998. American spacecraft have splashed down in the ocean for more than 50 years.

The one major difference is that SpaceX is a private company, founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk. Until now, all flights to the space station have been made by the U.S., Russian or European space agencies. NASA hopes SpaceX and other commercial firms will take over space jobs since it retired its shuttle program after 30 years in anticipation of such private 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


First Privately-Funded Rocket Headed to International Space Station

NASA TV(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- For the first time in the history of the U.S. space program, a commercial rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday morning to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

The unmanned rocket, dubbed the SpaceX Falcon 9, is topped with the Dragon space capsule and, barring any difficulties, should arrive at the ISS by Friday with a half-ton of food and other supplies.

The capsule is also carrying the ashes of 308 people, including James Doohan, who played Scotty in the original Star Trek series, and American astronaut Gordon Cooper.  The ashes are in a cannister that will be jettisoned into space.

Tuesday's milestone launch is 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 U.S., Russia, Japan and the European Union.  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.

Following lift-off, the White House issued a congratulatory statement that declared in part, "Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting because it represents the potential of a new era in American spaceflight.  Partnering with U.S. companies such as SpaceX to provide cargo and eventually crew service to the International Space Station is a cornerstone of the President’s plan for maintaining America’s leadership in space."´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


SpaceX Launch: Falcon Rocket to Carry 308 Cremated Remains

File photo. Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- When SpaceX launches its Falcon 9 rocket it will secretly be carrying celebrities.

Actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on the original Star Trek series, died in 2005. His ashes will be on board this mission -- as will those of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and 306 other people. If you have the money, Celestis, a space services company, will send your loved one's ashes up to orbit Earth.

Sound familiar? This is the second time around for Celestis and Space X; the companies tried to launch Doohan and Cooper and 206 others back in August 2008. When SpaceX launched the remains on its Falcon1 rocket, the rocket never made it to space. When the rocket failed to get to orbit, neither did the cremated remains, or, for that matter, some small satellites sent by NASA and the Department of Defense.

The satellites were lost, but Celestis has a performance guarantee, which means it holds some ashes back just in case something goes wrong.

The Falcon 9 is currently counting down to a launch on Saturday morning at 4:55 a.m. EDT.

SpaceX is a private company under contract to NASA to take cargo to the orbiting outpost, and Saturday's planned launch is a test to prove to NASA that it can fulfill its performance promises. The space agency has spent just under $300 million to fund SpaceX under COTS, the Commercial Orbital Transportation System.

SpaceX picked up the early development costs for its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule, hoping eventually to score a $1.6 billion dollar contract for regular cargo runs to the space station. One day, it says, it hopes to carry astronauts.

But SpaceX is in business to make money, and if they can pick up cargo on the side, it makes sense financially. The ashes of 308 souls add up to about $1 million-- though 208 of them are make-goods from the previous failed mission.

So in addition to the 1,014 pounds of food and supplies headed to the six astronauts on the space station, there are the spirits of 308 people.

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´╗┐

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