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back to article SpaceX Dragon, first private ship to the ISS, launched successfully

History is just days away from being made as SpaceX' Dragon cargoship finally blasted off successfully on its Falcon 9 rocket this morning on its way to a rendezvous with the International Space Station. Falcon 9 at lift-off (source: SpaceX webcast) Elon Musk's private space firm has had a number of setbacks with the latest …

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Nice one

Interesting that the range was being called in metric. Is it only NASA-built projects that go into space using feet & inches now? Just askin...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice one

Hehehe, brought a grin to my face hearing "Kilometers" being called out.

"So, they brought EVERYTHING up to date, not just the engineering"

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Re: Nice one

A lot of the US military also works in metric. IIRC, NASA has been resisting change because they have a lot of tooling and schematics in English units. I don't know how legitimate a reason that is, but it does boil down to cost and they are a bit overloaded.

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Facepalm

Re: Nice one

Please, please, please stop calling them 'English' or 'British' units. US units are not the same as UK imperial units, particularly the ones to do with fluid volume. Over here, we only still use them for a few things, such as measuring volumes of beer and milk, weighing cake ingredients, or giving distances between towns and villages (in the US I believe you call these cities).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice one

!particularly the ones to do with fluid volume. Over here, we only still use them for a few things, such as ... giving distances between towns and villages"

Personally, I'm 3 pints away from the nearest town, but only 1 pint needed to get to the next village.

:)

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We have towns and villages in the USA...

American immigrants come from many countries. Borrowed words from German, French and British are just all-over-the-place

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A great step forward

Space exploration is fundamentally dangerous; spotting a reason to delay a launch is a success, not a failure (after all, what if there had been people on board...?)

This will go down as a key moment in space exploration, irrespective of the success of the actual docking.

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Re: A great step forward

Lest we forget - shuttle missions were regularly delayed until everything was perfect.

So no - the delay is in no way a failure.

(An exploding fireball would have been a failure. But that didn't happen.)

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Re: A great step forward

Yep. And when the waterbags ignored the engineers warnings or overrode the computer decisions for PR (read 'political') purposes, we wound up with really bad jokes about alternate meanings for NASA (e.g. Need Another Seven Astronauts). Big Thumbs up for doing it right even if no lives were on the line for this specific mission.

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Boffin

Re: A great step forward

IIRC, the actual reason for one of those failures in particular was the politicised tendering process which meant the construction of the shuttle's booster rockets took place in another state, making the transport of the entire assembly in one piece impractical. As a result, the booster was comprised of (I think) three separate peices joined by o-rings. No prizes for guessing what failed in the case of the Challenger shuttle.

SpaceX neatly side-step this sort of problem by manufacturing everything themselves, removing the tendering process entirely. This results in the costs being substantially lower, and because they are in complete control of the manufacturing process end-to-end, should result in greater reliability. This is the main reason why I am of the opinion that large government-led space agencies such as NASA and ESA are going to lose out to private space exploration, and either disappear or greatly reduce their scope to designing payloads over the coming decades.

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Re: A great step forward

@Loyal Commenter;

Not to mention a cost-based decision to go with a single o-ring, in place of the two that had originally been designed (which double-ring would almost certainly have held). Plus the political decision to launch on an unusually cold Florida morning, despite engineering warnings about the temperatures, plus...

Most every catastrophe requires a lengthy chain of mis-steps before it occurs.

A single success does not a successful design indicate. Wehn we've got a *string* of successful Falcon launches, *then* I will laud SpaceX.

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Re: neatly side-step

Not really. Private industry still has as many foibles as government, just different ones. They need to do it for the least cost practical and still have to take some political decisions into account. And there's always the chance some egotistical manager will demand that some schedule be kept or someone will lose their job. (Where private industry will be better is that they don't get to side-step the blame quite as adroitly as politicos do.) That's part of why the Big Thumbs Up to SpaceX for following correct engineering processes. They too could have chosen to ignore them.

I concur that government run space agencies will eventually go the way of the dinosaur, but more because of their inherently more efficient processes. I commented some time back on a related issue that one of the advantages of the private project was that it looked to have sustained fiscal and planning backing instead of the start, stop, redo jerking of government.

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Re: A single success does not a successful design indicate.

True. But it's not so much the design we are celebrating as it is that for a change it looks like all the PHBs have been sent packing and the people in charge are following the right processes. So even if the current design fails, it will be a true engineering failure from which something will be learned, the design will be modified, and the project will continue with even better equipment.

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Re: A single success does not a successful design indicate.

That also remains to be seen.

Promising start, to be certain, but I'm waiting a bit before I conclude that Musk has managed to beat Peter Principle and his minion, the demon Murphy.

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Re: A great step forward

It's definitely not a failure, given that the launch software caught a faulty valve. In fact, it was successful in preventing a potential disaster.

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Meh

Re: A great step forward

Your 2nd paragraph is spot on, but as for the first, Shuttle launches were also planned from Vandenberg AFB in California. With launchings in both Florida and California, boosters would have had to be shipped long distances no matter what state hosted the manufacturing.

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@laird cummings

Actually there were 2 O-rings used, not one. The idea of being 2 was that the second would hold in the case of a failure of the first. The problem that occured was that the first didn't seal because the ambient temperature was to low (surprisingly, the other o-ring was at the same temperature, and so also failed).

The fix was to honor the minimum ambient temperature requirement for launch.

I'd guess that is why someone downvoted you, but they could've at least said why.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @laird cummings

Nope. I downvoted him because he was being a turd in the punch bowl at a successful launch party. While it is important to take all appropriate precautions, it is equally important at this embryonic stage of private space flight to laud each success.

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Re: @laird cummings

AC @ 13:11 GMT, 24 May:

I, at least, have balls enough to put my name on the line. You..? Not so much.

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I really

REALLY hope that the rest of the mission goes OK; it's a fantastic achievement to get this far.

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Good going guys! If this works out then it'll be a great step forward for the private space industry.

The IIS accepting a privatly build spacecraft will open the door to competition which in turn will spurn a whole range of new possibilities not least of which would be cheaper prices and technological advances.

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Just want to say

Hell, yeah!

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Great stuff!

I'd never really thought about it before watching tonight's launch coverage on the SpaceX site, but Dragon is the only way to get stuff BACK from the ISS at the moment - Soyuz takes people, the ATV is a waste incinerator on departure. So that's one more reason to wish them every continued success on this test mission

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Coat

Eggs

Mutant space spiders/trout/whatever - what's not to like.

<- I think that's a Fantastic Four comic in the pocket.

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Eggs?

Fried, please.

And by the way - keep up the good work.

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Scotty and Gordo are back in space

Falcon also carried the cremains of James Doohan (Star Trek's Scotty) and Gordon Cooper (a real life Mercury astronaut) on its second stage which will spend the next year or so in orbit before reentering the atmosphere.

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Anonymous Coward

"within spitting distance of the ISS"

Surely in orbit that can be pretty far away.

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Trollface

Re: "within spitting distance of the ISS"

It's a well utilized spacial measurement, and is equal to a third of a London double decker bus, or one eighth of an Olympic sized swimming pool if you want a more precise measurement.

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Headmaster

Re: "within spitting distance of the ISS"

Olympic sized swimming pools per second is the SI unit used to measure the rate of spitting, not the range.

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Re: "within spitting distance of the ISS"

In space, if you spit, won't your gob just keep on going like anything else?

Newton's First Law and all that?

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Re: "within spitting distance of the ISS"

Yes you can spit pretty far in orbit but you need a PhD in celestial mechanics to actually hit something if it's any distance away.

IIRC that was one of the things that qualified Mr. Aldrin to do what he did. (the PhD, not the spitting)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "within spitting distance of the ISS"

And surely a dragon spitting at the ISS would be quite dangerous?

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Re: "within spitting distance of the ISS"

in space no one can hear you spit

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Pint

Re: "within spitting distance of the ISS"

Hmmm, by the time you have opened your sealed helmet to spit, I can imagine the force of the air rushing from your lungs in to the near vacuum of space would impart a pretty good initial velocity to your sputum. After that, being pretty cold in space, I would imagine the frozen gob could do quite a bit of damage, adding to the various bits of space junk flying around up there.

I think we need to develop a new metric for space-spit, but I haven't had enough beer yet to come up with one. Please help...

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Boffin

You mean a Chinese dragon,

the participation of which on the ISS (what a misnomer !) has been vetoed by the US government ? No, there's no danger in sight, as the dragon doesn't seem to be responding to the provocation by spitting, but rather is in the process of creating its own space station, as the local space bully won't let it play in what was supposed to be the common sandbox. Pity that US domestic politics makes this duplication of effort necessary, instead of all capable and interested parties pulling together on the great endeavour that is space exploration....

In any event, kudos to the SpaceX team - but before we go overboard in celebrating this «triumph of private enterprise», we might want to recall that the company has been supported to the tune of some 400 million USD by NASA....

Henri

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I notice Lewis Page didn't report this success. The man hates winners, clearly.

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Or...

He just doesn't get into the office that early...

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Re: Or...

Or this has nothing to do with the MoD and/or the military-industrial complex...

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Facepalm

Yeah ...

... just like he doesn't like the technicians who did their jobs at Fukushima. He has never, ever said how much he thinks they have done a great job. Oh, wait, he has, many times ...

Funny how Lewis can rattle so many cages by being right.

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Alien

Sanity Check

Hold on a minute guys, didn't you see that "documentary" with Sigourney Weaver about space lizards......

That damned thing gave me nightmares. It was intelligent, spat acid and produced the kind of offspring that you don't want running around your garden.......

I love Gigers work, I just hope that Elon doesn't bring any of his creatures home.....

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Re: Sanity Check

Given that one of my former offices was within spitting distance (acid or not) from Giger's home I'd say I damned liked space lizards laying around in my backyard (or rather his frontyard).

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Alien

Re: Sanity Check

Yes, but now we know what to with the egg of drunken alien: Fry it quick before it hatches.

w/apologies to Leslie Fish

http://ohmytracks.com/#/index.php/music/Leslie+Fish/Skybound

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Happy

Phew

Does this now mean we don't have to go cap in hand to the Russkies or Chinese or Indians in order to chuck stuff in to space?

The West can sleep safely in thier beds for a while . . .

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Re: Phew

Does this now mean we don't have to go cap in hand to the Russkies or Chinese or Indians in order to chuck stuff in to space?

That's true, but you will have to use PayPal to pay for it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Phew

Well that's excellent, because you then benefit from Buyer Protection.

So when things start to look all wrong and you feel that sinking feeling and your face starts to feel all hot and you're thinking "I have been ripped off", you will at least know that your money is safe and therefore what you're experiencing is all due to the craft being on fire.

Protected. Happy.

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Wine experiment

Is it me, or does anyone else think that the wine fermenting experiment will not come back intact?

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How long before we can send

hot curries up there?

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Re: How long before we can send

Not until they can open the windows to vent the station, obviously.

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Trollface

Friday's Headline - Can See It Now

Drunk Spiders Arrested after Orbital Hit & Run Incident

AP - Several hundred underaged orb-web spiderlings well over the legal alcohol limit were taken into custody today after their vehicle was involved in a hit and run incident in low Earth orbit. According to eye-witness accounts from those onboard the ISS, the spiderlings had gorged themselves on wine and trout caviar onlty to leg it after the capsule they had space-jacked collided with the station. For further developments, please click this web link...

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Go

Saw it from Orlando

It was a perfect cloudless sky, so the first stage was an incredibly bright flare, even from 45 miles away. It was worth getting eaten by mosquitoes.

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