HOUSTON — The Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft was berthed to the International Space Station at 8:56 a.m. EST Sunday. The delivery flight was the second contracted resupply mission by the company under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Space station Expedition 34 crew members Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn of NASA used the station’s robotic arm to successfully capture Dragon at 5:31 a.m. The capture came one day, 19 hours and 22 minutes after the mission’s launch. The station was 253 miles above northern Ukraine. Following its capture, the spacecraft was installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module through ground commands issued by mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Cape Canaveral, FL — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) yesterday successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official
cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 SpaceX missions to the space station under the company’s cargo resupply contract with NASA. On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station’s Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station
Dragon – the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth — will return with scientific materials and space
The Falcon 9 rocket, powered by nine Merlin engines, performed nominally today during every phase of its approach to orbit, including two stage separations, solar array deployment, and the final push of Dragon into its intended orbit. Dragon will now chase the space station before beginning a series of burns that will bring it into close proximity to the station. If all goes well, Dragon will attach to the complex on October 10 and spend over two weeks there before an expected return to Earth on October 28.
“We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission,” said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technical Officer, SpaceX. “We still have a lot of work to do, of
course, as we guide Dragon’s approach to the space station. But the launch was an unqualified success.”
The CRS-1 mission follows a historic demonstration flight last May when SpaceX’s Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to attach to the space station, exchange cargo, and return safely to Earth. The flight signaled restoration of American capability to resupply the space station, not possible since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.
NASA and SpaceX have announced October 7, 2012 as the target launch date for SpaceX’s first resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for 8:34 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral, Florida. October 8 is the backup date.
The launch represents the first of 12 SpaceX flights to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract, and follows a successful demonstration mission in May when SpaceX became the first private company ever to attach
to the ISS and return safely to Earth.
The SpaceX CRS-1 mission also represents restoration of American capability to deliver and return cargo to the ISS—a feat not achievable since the retirement of the space shuttle. SpaceX is also contracted to develop Dragon to send crew to the space station. SpaceX’s first manned flight is expected to take place in 2015.
On this mission, Dragon will be filled with supplies, which include materials to support 166 experiments in plant cell biology, human biotechnology, and materials technology. One experiment will examine the effects of microgravity
on the opportunistic yeast Candida albicans, which is present on all humans. Another will evaluate how microgravity affects the growth of cell walls in a plant called Arabidopsis.
Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will use a robotic arm to grapple Dragon following its rendezvous with the station, expected on October 10. They will attach Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module for a few weeks while crew members unload cargo and load experiment samples for return to Earth.
Dragon is scheduled to return in late October for a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Dragon will fly back carrying scientific materials and space station hardware.
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 now reports that the Dragon capsule has splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean. That ends the Dragon spacecraft’s first flight, which was also the first demonstration mission under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, contract. Launch took place this morning at 10:43 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida adjacent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. According to SpaceX recovery crews are at the spacecraft and are attaching floats. A press conference with SpaceX officials is expected to take place from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Press Site at about 3:30pm EST.
Hawthorne, CA (December 3, 2009) – Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently conducted its first Dragon spacecraft operations training for a group of NASA astronauts and personnel at its corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, CA. The October training focused on how the crew will interface with the Dragon spacecraft while it is approaching and berthed to the International Space Station (ISS). Three of the participating astronauts—Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock—will be on board the ISS when Dragon makes its first visit under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.
The astronauts were briefed on vehicle ingress and egress, habitability of the spacecraft, payload handling and commanding through SpaceX’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Communication Unit. The training was a key step in SpaceX’s progress towards providing NASA an alternative for cargo transport to and from the ISS when the Space Shuttle retires.
“This was the first time the NASA astronauts who will interact with Dragon during its early missions were actually inside a Dragon flight vehicle,” said Elon Musk, CEO and CTO, SpaceX. “SpaceX was honored to host the ISS crew for this preliminary training exercise, and we look forward to serving NASA further under the COTS program and CRS contracts.”
Also in attendance were NASA astronauts Marsha Ivins and Megan McArthur, as well as other key NASA personnel from the NASA Astronaut Office and Mission Operations Directorates.
Under the COTS program, SpaceX will execute three flights of the Dragon spacecraft. Dragon will pass in close proximity to, and berth with, the ISS as part of the second and third COTS missions, respectively. Upon completion of these demonstration flights, SpaceX will begin to fulfill the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for 12 cargo flights between 2010 and 2015 and represents a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg to be carried to the ISS.
For more information about the Falcon family of vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft, please visit www.SpaceX.com.
SpaceX is developing a family of launch vehicles and spacecraft intended to increase the reliability and reduce the cost of both manned and unmanned space transportation, ultimately by a factor of ten. With the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 vehicles, SpaceX offers highly reliable/cost-efficient launch capabilities for spacecraft insertion into any orbital altitude and inclination. Starting in 2010, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will provide Earth-to-LEO transport of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, including resupply to the International Space Station (ISS).
Founded in 2002, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The SpaceX team now numbers over 800, with corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, California. For more information, please visit the company’s web site at www.SpaceX.com.