Excellent! The astronauts aboard the ISS no longer have to worry about running out of cheese!
Space Exploration Technologies – SpaceX – is one small step closer to producing the world's first commercial taxi cab to drop off astronauts and cargo at the International Space Station (ISS). The rocket biz launched by PayPal founder Elon Musk – with $500m from investors and $300m from the US government – is firing a second …
Looks like they have negotiated with NASA to knock that down a bit.
I wonder if they managed to get the payment for *both* the flights. Given up to now it's been payments for milestones reached they deserve them.
it will be slightly over 1 yr from the 1st Dragon flight to that point, which is pretty impressive.
Still no word on first launch of its Taurus2 competitor.
Now that the ISS is built, it's served its real purpose, hence the eagerness to bring it down. Until that happens, how many astronauts will be taken to to the ISS by SpaceX? Surely not enough to pay back any reasonable investment in developing human-rated hardware.
This doesn't add up, unless they're certain that there will be a significant number of humans put into LEO by the US for other purposes. Either that, or this is just another government-sponsored white elephant.
They don't have to rely on the US government for work, they're free to explore alternative possibilities for putting men in space. Retrieving or maintaining satellites, undercutting the current state operators for launching satellites and so forth, but Musk is reportedly keen on sending ships and possibly people to Mars, and presumably many other things that require a man-rated rockiet, but don't require a contract from the US government. If they aren't already working on a bigger goals than the ISS ferry I'll eat my shoes.
Spacex has a multi-billion dollar supply contract to the ISS and Dragon can carry cargo and humans. It's the *only* US transport that was designed to do this.
The last Russian price for a Soyuz trip is $60m a *seat*. Spacex are talking $80-100m for the *whole* package.
They've also got Bigelow's "space hotel" models on their launch manifest.
Dragon was not developed *just* for NASA use.
"That's SERIOUSLY quick development!!! →"
I would caution people that docking will only go ahead if *all* tests in the first part of the flight are "nominal". Any under or over performance would be grounds for NASA pulling the plug and Dragon returning to earth.
The original Dragon launch was Dec1 2010 and the COTS2 launch was scheduled for around June this year but then reports started to surface that the final date for changes had been put back and Musk stated they were hoping to merge the COTS 2 & 3 flights together.
I guess the sticking point was Spacex's view that if you meet all the milestone in 2 flights but do it in 1 flight you should receive *all* the milestone payments (seemed fair to me but this is the US govt they are dealing with).
Note that a lot of this will be down to Spacex's pre-planning. If you *know* ahead of time you're going to want to go crew rated you put in the wiring and plumbing during the build as *standard*, along with the mounting hard points for seating, control panels etc.
They make a point that *all* Dragon capsules have a window. Point is if you leave it out of the cargo version you now have two *door* designs to design/test/manufacture and keep in inventory. Why bother?
I suspect that the understanding of the *true* cost of having multiple versions of stuff, and the savings to be had by just stacking multiple *copies* (or different sized versions of the same stage) together are *key* features of why they have done so much at *relatively* low cost so quickly.
Note that this will *not* be the crew rated Dragon as it won't have the launch abort system, which they've only been funded for since April this year on a 30 months schedule. That said it's not impossible they may have already started to work up to it and try out a few bits and pieces on Dragon. *Provided* the core test are successful Spacex usually try a few extra test maneuvers of their own. IIRC they had a go at putting the 2nd stage onto a GTO for COTS1
"Shouldn't they try docking with something else first? Or at least do a dry run?"
No. COTS1 was the dry run for launching Dragon.
They've just spent several months getting NASA to *allow* 2 flights to be merged into 1.
There's this thing called computer simulation that allows people to practice doing things *before* they do them. Spacex have probably run 100s of these *already*. They will run quite a few more before launch.
BTW Both the European ATV and Japanese HTV docked with ISS on their *first* launch.
can lift to the «ISS» or geo-stationary orbit ? For comparison, the Soyuz-2, if launched from the spaceport in French Guiana, is said to be able to place 3 tonnes to geostationary orbit (http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Launchers_Access_to_Space/SEM6JRS4LZE_0.html)....
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