Dragon to Depart ISS on Thursday
NASA News Release
Wed, 30 May 2012 01:17:19 PM EDT
The Expedition 31 crew of the International Space Station spent much of the day Tuesday working with the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle, reviewing procedures for the departure of the first commercial spacecraft to visit the station and packing it with items for return to Earth.
Dragon, which delivered 1,014 pounds of non-critical cargo on its demonstration flight to the station, was cleared unanimously Tuesday by the station’s Mission Management Team for unberthing early Thursday. In reverse order of how Dragon was captured and berthed Friday, the crew will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach the vehicle from the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony node at 4:05 a.m., move it away from the station and release it at 5:35 a.m. for return to Earth. The SpaceX team in Hawthorne, Calif., will run Dragon through about five hours of orbital operations before commanding it to a splashdown for recovery off the California coast.
SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Completes Key Tests In Quest to Visit Space Station
Most Difficult Challenges Still Ahead
May 24, 2012
Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft completed key on-orbit tests as part of a historic attempt to be the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.
In the days since SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the vehicle has steadily completed one task after another as it prepares to berth with the International Space Station. Only minutes after the spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, its solar arrays successfully deployed, providing power to the spacecraft. The door that had been covering sensors needed for proximity operations opened successfully.
On Tuesday and Wednesday Dragon traveled in orbit, firing its thrusters to catch up to the space station. During that time, the vehicle hit a series of milestones. Dragon showed its Absolute Global Positioning System (GPS) is in good working order. The vehicle demonstrated both a pulsed and a full abort. It also demonstrated free drift, floating freely in orbit as it will when grappled by the space station’s robotic arm. And its proximity operations sensors and SpaceX’s COTS UHF Communication Unit (CUCU) are up and running.
Early this morning, Dragon’s thrusters fired, bringing the vehicle 2.4 kilometers below the International Space Station. The vehicle completed two key tests at that distance. Dragon demonstrated its Relative GPS and established a communications link with the International Space Station using CUCU. Astronauts commanded on Dragon’s strobe light to confirm the link worked.
A video of Dragon as seen by the space station is available at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=144472261
With these tests complete, Dragon has started the trip flying around the space station, returning the spacecraft to its original approach location.
Dragon has been performing well, but the most difficult aspects of the mission are still ahead.
FRIDAY MORNING – Final Approach, Dragon Grapple
Around 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern NASA will decide if Dragon is GO to move into the approach ellipsoid 1.4 kilometers around the space station. If Dragon is GO, after approximately one hour Dragon will move to a location 250 meters directly below the station. Dragon will then perform a series of maneuvers to show systems are operating as expected. If NASA is satisfied with the results of these many tests, Dragon will be allowed to perform the final approach to the space station.
Sometime around 6:00 AM Pacific/9:00 AM Eastern, astronauts on the space station will grapple Dragon with the space station’s robotic arm and the spacecraft will attach to the station.
SATURDAY MORNING – Hatch Opening
If all goes well, at approximately 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern, the crew will start procedures to open Dragon’s hatch. It will take around 2 hours to complete all operations leading to the hatch opening. Once the hatch is opened, astronauts will enter Dragon for the first time in space.
All dates and times are approximate and could easily change.
This is SpaceX’s second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed; by their very nature, they carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.
Update on SpaceX COTS 2 Test Launch
SpaceX Press Release – May 19, 2012
Today’s COTS 2 Demonstration launch was aborted half a second before liftoff when the flight computer detected slightly high ressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. We have discovered root cause and repairs are underway.
During rigorous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine. We are now in the process of replacing the failed valve. Those repairs should be complete tonight. We will continue to review data on Sunday. If things look good, we will be ready to attempt to launch on Tuesday, May 22nd at 3:44 AM Eastern.
The next launch attempt will be webcast live at www.spacex.com.
NASA SpaceX post-launch attempt scrub briefing. At t-minus 0.5 seconds the Falcon 9 computer shutdown the rocket due to a high pressure reading on engine number 5. NASA/SpaceX set to try again 3:44 EDT May 22d.
Officials from NASA and SpaceX held a press briefing at the Kennedy Space Center to discuss the second SpaceX demonstration launch for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS), scheduled for liftoff on Saturday, May 19. The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule will occur from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a single instantaneous launch opportunity at4:55 a.m. EDT. NASA Television launch commentary from Cape Canaveral begins at 3:30 a.m.
During the flight, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including the capability to rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station.
For more information visit: http://www.spacex.com/downloads/COTS-2-Press-Kit-5-14-12.pdf
Mission Would Make SpaceX the First Commercial Company to Attempt to Send a Spacecraft
to the International Space Station
Hawthorne, CA – On Monday, April 30, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will webcast a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine powerful Merlin engines in preparation for the company’s upcoming launch.
The webcast, available at spacex.com, is set to begin at 2:30 PM ET/ 11:30 AM PT, with the actual static fire targeted for 3:00 PM ET/ 12:00 PM PT.
The 9 engine test will take place at the company’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as part of a full launch dress rehearsal leading up to the second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) launch. During the rehearsal, SpaceX engineers will run through all countdown processes as though it were launch day. The exercise will end with all nine engines firing at full power for two seconds.
After the test, SpaceX will conduct a thorough review of all data as engineers make final preparations for the upcoming launch, currently targeted for May 7. SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. During the mission, Dragon’s sensors and flight systems will be subject to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station. If NASA decides Dragon is ready, the vehicle will attach to the
station and astronauts will open Dragon’s hatch and unload the cargo onboard.
This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, a feat previously performed by only a few
governments. Success is not guaranteed. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again. It is also the
second demonstration flight under NASA’s program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station.
The first SpaceX COTS flight, in December 2010, made SpaceX the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to orbit and return it safely to Earth. Once SpaceX demonstrates the ability to carry cargo to the space station, it will begin to fulfill its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA for at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the space station. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal.
SpaceX also plans to broadcast the entire launch live at spacex.com on launch day.
Press Release – Washington, DC – March 28, 2012 – The National Space Society (NSS) is pleased to announce Dr. Stephen Hawking as the 14th recipient of NSS’s Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award. The award will be presented to Dr. Hawking at a special ceremony at the Cooks Branch Conservancy in Montgomery, Texas on Wednesday, March 28 and is given in recognition of his outstanding and continuing public efforts in support of human space development and settlement.
In the last decade, Dr. Hawking has repeatedly and publicly advocated the need to move part of humanity off the Earth in order to avoid the destruction of the human race, either through self-destructive actions such as nuclear war, or natural phenomena such as asteroid collision or, eventually, the death of our nearest star, the Sun. “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” says Hawking. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”
”Dr. Hawking’s public statements are very important, not only because of the respect his fellow scientists and many others have for him and his work, but also because they give more credence to these issues among scientists, the media,
politicians, and the public,” said NSS Executive Director, Paul E. Damphousse, who will present the award to Hawking in Texas, along with Board of Governors member and Heinlein literary executor, Arthur M. Dula, CEO of Excalibur Almaz, a private spaceflight company.
Damphousse added, “Speaking for all our members, chapters, and partners who actively participated in the selection process, it is a distinct honor and privilege to bestow this honor upon Dr. Hawking – one of the greatest minds of our time.”
The Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award, named after the author widely recognized as the “dean of science fiction writers,” honors those individuals who have made significant, lifetime contributions to the creation of a free, spacefaring civilization. Those individuals whose actions have involved personal, social, or financial risk are particularly meritorious. It is one of the highest honors bestowed upon an individual by the National Space Society because the award winner is chosen by vote of all of the Society’s members and chapters.
The date on which Dr. Hawking will receive the award exactly coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of the National Space Society through a merger between the National Space Institute and the L5 Society. More formal celebratory events will occur at NSS’s 31st International Space Development Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., May 24-28, 2012. A video of the award presentation to Dr. Hawking will be shown at the 25th Anniversary Governors Dinner and Gala.
About The National Space Society (NSS): NSS is an independent, educational,
grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of a spacefaring
civilization. Founded when the National Space Institute and the
L5 Society merged in 1987,
NSS is widely acknowledged as the preeminent citizen’s voice on space. NSS has
over 12,000 members and supporters, and over 50 chapters in the United States and around the world. The
society publishes Ad Astra
magazine, an award-winning periodical chronicling the most important
developments in space.
About ISDC: The International Space Development Conference is the annual
conference of the National Space Society. ISDC 2012 will take place at the Grand
Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC from May 24 through 28, 2012. ISDC brings together
a diverse group of NASA officials, aerospace industry leaders and interested
private citizens to engage in discussions about today’s prevalent space issues
in order to stimulate innovation and overcome the obstacles that hinder human
advancement off the Earth.
For more information on the National Space Society, please visit www.nss.org, or contact Paul Damphousse at Media2012@nss.org or 202-429-1600. For more information
on ISDC 2012, please visit http://isdc.nss.org/2012 , or contact Debbie Cohen at ISDC2012.Media@nss.org or 202-429-1600.
SpaceX Press Release
SpaceX Completes Important Commercial Crew Milestone
SpaceX continues to prepare for our upcoming test flight in which we will attempt to send the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. At the same time we continue making rapid progress in our efforts to prepare the Dragon
spacecraft to carry astronauts.
You may have read our update on the initial tests of the SuperDraco engines that will power the launch escape system. Recently, SpaceX completed another important milestone – the first NASA Crew Trial, one of two crew tests as part of SpaceX’s work to build a prototype Dragon crew cabin.
For this milestone SpaceX demonstrated that our new crew cabin design will work well for astronauts in both nominal and off-nominal scenarios. It also provided our engineers with the opportunity to gain valuable feedback from both NASA astronauts and industry experts.
NASA conducted a daylong review of the Dragon crew vehicle layout using the
Dragon engineering model equipped with seats and
representations of crew systems. Photo: SpaceX
The engineering prototype includes seven seats as well as representations of crew accommodations such as lighting, environmental control and life support systems, displays, cargo racks, and other interior systems. During the daylong
test, SpaceX and NASA evaluators including four NASA astronauts, participated in human factors assessments which covered entering and exiting Dragon under both normal and contingency cases, as well as reach and visibility evaluations.
Test crew included (from top
left): NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA Astronaut
Tony Antonelli, NASA Astronaut Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations
Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA
Astronaut Rex Walheim, and NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra. Photo: Roger Gilbertson /
seats mount to strong, lightweight supporting structures attached to the
pressure vessel walls. Each seat can hold an adult up to 6 feet 5 inches tall,
250 lbs, and has a liner that is custom-fit for the crewmember.
With all seven crewmembers
in their seats, Dragon has sufficient interior space for three additional
people to stand and assist the crew with their launch
NASA Astronaut Rex Walheim,
SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk and SpaceX Commercial Crew Development
Manager and former NASA Astronaut
Garrett Reisman standing inside the Dragon spacecraft during testing
In fact, Dragon has so much interior volume, that we could place an entire three-person Russian Soyuz capsule descent module inside Dragon’s pressure vessel.
SpaceX Featured on 60 Minutes
Stay tuned for more updates as we work towards making Dragon the most advanced spacecraft ever flown.
Check out our interview with Ken Bowersox, V. P. SpaceX done in 2010 at the ISPCS Conference. http://astrocast.tv/?media=http://astrocast.tv/media.xml&id=64&t=Interview+Ken+Bowersox&i=http://astrocast.tv/assetts/Bowersox.Still001.jpg&d
January 23, 2012
the start of the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar and this year, SpaceX’s Dragon will become the first privately developed spacecraft to visit the International Space Station.
Space travel is one of the most difficult of all human endeavors, and success is never a guarantee. This flight introduces a series of new challenges and new magnitudes of complexity; if even the smallest thing goes wrong, we will be forced to abort the mission.
What is guaranteed, however, is our commitment. There will be challenges along the way, but SpaceX will again make history and become the first private company to send a spacecraft to the Space Station. We take this responsibility very seriously and will not stop until we succeed.
Dragon is a spacecraft unlike any other. Not only is it the first privately developed spacecraft to successfully return from Earth orbit, but it is also the only reusable spacecraft designed for human transport in operation today. In the coming days, we’ll take a closer look at some of Dragon’s advanced technologies in celebration of the Year of the Dragon and the opening of a new era in space travel.
In the meantime, checkout out the interactive panorama below for a look inside Dragon in its cargo configuration, as it will be on its first mission to the International Space Station:
(click image to view interactive
At the top you have the hatch that will connect with the International Space Station. To the side is the hatch as well as racks and straps to hold
cargo, which in our next mission will include several hundred pounds of astronaut provisions. And on the floor, just above the heat shield, is
additional storage space behind metal doors that are shown both open and closed.
SpaceX Press Release:
For its first mission to the International Space Station, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will use deployable solar arrays as its primary power source for running sensors, driving heating and cooling systems, and communicating with SpaceX’s Mission Control Center and the Space Station. Dragon’s solar arrays generate up to 5,000 watts of power — enough to power over 80 standard light bulbs. The solar arrays, shielded by protective covers during launch, deploy just minutes after Dragon separates from the Falcon 9 second stage, as it heads towards its rendezvous with the Space Station.
While many commercial satellites and NASA missions such as the Hubble Space telescope use solar arrays, Dragon will be the first commercial American transport vehicle to do so.
Dragon spacecraft with solar panels fully deployed on orbit.
Past American spacecraft like Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle used fuel cells or battery packs. Fuel cells are limited by the amount of chemical reactants (typically oxygen and hydrogen) that the vehicle can carry. Batteries alone are limiting due to their mass and the amount of power they can carry.
Solar energy provides a key benefit — long-term power. Combining Dragon’s solar arrays with a compact and efficient battery pack provides a reliable and renewable source of power. When in the sun, Dragon’s solar arrays recharge the battery pack, and the charged batteries provide power while Dragon passes through the Earth’s shadow. With solar panels, Dragon will have the power it needs for longer trips, whether to the Space Station or future missions to Mars.
Dragon’s solar array panels
being installed on Dragon’s trunk at the SpaceX hangar in Cape Canaveral, FL.
Dragon’s deployable solar arrays were developed from scratch by a small team of SpaceX engineers. To ensure they will survive the harsh environment of space, our engineers put the solar arrays through hundreds of hours of rigorous testing including thermal, vacuum, vibration, structural and electrical testing.
SpaceX engineers conducting an early solar panel test. Hundreds of flood lamps simulate the unfiltered light of the sun.
Photo: Roger Gilbertson/
conducts most of these tests in-house. This video shows a solar array full
deployment test using testing equipment developed by SpaceX as part of a NASA
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) milestone: http://youtu.be/i90vaEsMiEQ
testing was complete, the solar arrays headed to SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral launch
site for final integration. The solar arrays and fairing covers that protect
the folded arrays during launch have since been installed on the Dragon
spacecraft in preparation for their first flight to the International Space
Dragon with the protective fairings installed over the folded solar arrays, at the SpaceX
Cape Canaveral launch site.
Stay tuned for additional updates as we continue preparations for our first flight to the Space Station!