For the SpaceX, this mission is a key milestone in its short history. Elon
Musk, a technology entrepreneur and engineer, set up the organization with the
specific intention of taking people into space.
Elon Musk told reporters immediately after the launch: “It’s been 17 years to get to this point, from 2002 to now. To be
frank, I’m a little emotionally exhausted because it was super stressful.
“Our focus has been on serving
NASA’s needs but once Dragon is in regular operation, I think we will seek
commercial customers of which the NASA administrator, and NASA in general, has
been very supportive.”
He said those customers could include private citizens going to the ISS,
just as they have done on Soyuz vehicles in the past.
Separately, Elon Musk is developing a much bigger system – which he calls
the Starship and Super Heavy rocket – to transport people to the Moon and Mars.
The Dragon crew capsule is a variant on the ISS cargo freighter flown by
Upgrades include life-support systems, obviously; and more powerful
thrusters to push the vessel to safety if something goes wrong with a rocket
during an ascent to orbit.
It also has four parachutes instead of the freighter’s three to control the
return to Earth.
Dragon crew capsules will splashdown in the Atlantic not far from Kennedy.
NASA is essentially now contracting out crew transport to SpaceX.
Whereas in the past, NASA engineers would have top-down control of all
aspects of vehicle design and the agency would own and operate the hardware –
the relationship with industry has been put on a completely new footing.
Today, NASA sets broad requirements and industry is given plenty of latitude
in how it meets those demands.
After being taken to orbit, the Dragon makes its own way to the station
using onboard thrusters.
One of the big differences between this mission and standard cargo flights
is the mode of approach and attachment to the ISS. Freighters come up under the
orbiting lab and are grappled by a robotic arm and pulled into a berthing
ISS astronauts will be watching closely to see that the capsule behaves as
The Dragon is expected to stay at the station until March 8. The current plan has it undocking, firing its thrusters to come out of orbit, and splashing down at roughly 13:45 GMT.
SpaceX has successfully launched the Dragon CRS-10 (2) mission carrying a cargo ship for the International Space Station (ISS) following the postponement of take-off on February 18 because of technical problems.
Witnesses said the Dragon rocket was only briefly visible before making its way into the clouds.
The launch was made from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The rocket booster successfully landed on the ground nine minutes after taking off.
Image source Flickr
The touchdown is part of SpaceX’s strategy of returning rockets to earth so they can be reused rather than jettisoning them in the ocean after a single launch.
Moments after the rocket landed, the SpaceX Dragon supply ship successfully reached orbit, prompting cheers inside the SpaceX Mission Control room.
The Dragon is now making its way to the ISS, and is expected to arrive on February 22.
On January 14, SpaceX resumed flights by launching a Falcon 9 vehicle from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast.
It was the first mission by the private rocket company since one of its vehicles exploded on the launch pad in September.
The company founder, Elon Musk, wants SpaceX to be at the forefront of the race involving several companies to deploy satellite-based internet services over the next few years.
SpaceX also has a long queue of customers all waiting for a ride to orbit – including America’s civil space agency (NASA), the US military and multiple outfits in the commercial sector.
Los Angeles residents have been turning out to watch the US space shuttle Endeavour as it inches through the city on a giant trolley, bound for a museum.
The spacecraft that once reached 17,000 mph (28,160km/h) is trundling down the city’s famously low-level boulevards at a stately 2 mph.
“It’s pretty neat to see a spaceship in the street,” a spectator told local TV.
Endeavour began its 12-mile, two-day journey on Friday and is due to end up at the California Science Center.
The 75-ton spacecraft entered service in 1992, making 25 trips, logging 123 million miles and circling the globe almost 4,700 times.
Replacing Challenger, which was destroyed in an accident in 1986 that killed seven astronauts, Endeavour was the baby of the shuttle fleet.
NASA took its shuttles out of service last year in order to focus on destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, such as asteroids and Mars.
Los Angeles residents have been turning out to watch the US space shuttle Endeavour as it inches through the city on a giant trolley
The three other surviving shuttles are already in museums or will be eventually:
• Enterprise is on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.
• Discovery is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.
• Atlantis is due to be put on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
For its trip across Los Angeles, Endeavour has been placed on a 160-wheeled carrier which is being guided by remote control.
The shuttle set off on Friday from Los Angeles international airport, where it arrived three weeks ago aboard a specially equipped Boeing 747.
After an early bumpy ride, it was backed into a shopping centre car park in the city’s Westchester neighborhood as crowds cheered.
Janet Dion, a family therapist from nearby Manhattan Beach, marvelled at the shuttle, its exterior weathered by its space missions.
“You can sense the magnitude of where it’s been,” she told the Associated Press news agency, looking at the heat tiles which had protected the craft on its returns to Earth.
Around midnight local time, Endeavour crossed a bridge over the Interstate 405 highway, an especially difficult part of the complicated journey because of the size of the shuttle and width of the bridge.
For the bridge manoeuvre, crews spent hours transferring the shuttle to a special, lighter towing dolly, which was then pulled across by a pickup truck.
Four hundred trees had to be cut down to make way for Endeavour’s wingspan. The city has promised to plant 1,000 replacements.
Power lines have also been raised and traffic lights pulled down but some stretches of the 12-mile journey are still a tight squeeze.
Former shuttle commander Mark Kelly, who captained Endeavour’s final flight, said he hoped the spacecraft would become an inspiration for future generations of astronauts.
“Maybe some day one of these kids that see Endeavour, look up at it at the California Science Center, will be that person that walks on the planet Mars?” he told US broadcaster CNN.
An amateur video of the space shuttle Challenger explosion shortly after liftoff has surfaced over 25 years after the tragic event when seven astronauts lost their lives.
The rare film of the 1986 Challenger explosion was taken by Jeffrey Ault of Orange City, Florida.
It is perhaps the only amateur recording of the event on film and it has been made available exclusively to The Huffington Post.
The newly released video offers a closer and more intimate view of the tragedy than have other video reports previously released by the news media.
Jeffrey Ault was part of a live audience gathered to watch the Challenger take off from the Kennedy Space Center, less than 10 miles from the launch site. He shot the video on his Super 8 home video camera, and it sat for 26 years in a box in his house.
“I was hoping to see an event that I would remember for the rest of my life,” Jeffrey Ault told the Huffington Post in an email.
“I did. Just not the way I would have liked to. Unfortunately, it became one of those long lasting memories for all the wrong reasons.”
An amateur video of the space shuttle Challenger explosion shortly after liftoff has surfaced over 25 years after the tragic event
The initial explosion happens at around the 1:20 mark in the video. And it’s clear the spectators don’t grasp what is happening right away, with one person in the background whispering: “Oh, that’s beautiful,” as the shuttle’s contrails split in two and begin descending back toward the ground below.
Shortly after the explosion, former NASA public affairs officer Steve Nesbitt can be overheard announcing from the Mission Control Center: “Flight control is here looking very carefully at the situation. Obviously a major malfunction.”
And finally, at the 2:50 mark, Steve Nesbitt can be heard announcing that the Challenger has exploded. The video ends shortly after that.
The Challenger accident brought all U.S. shuttle flights to a halt and ignited a debate at the time about whether the shuttle program should even continue.
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