News / USA

SpaceX Capsule Ready to Launch to Space Station

SpaceX Dragon Capsule Leaves ISSSpaceX Dragon Capsule Leaves ISS
x
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Leaves ISS
SpaceX Dragon Capsule Leaves ISS
Suzanne Presto
The California-based company SpaceX is set to launch the first of a dozen missions to deliver critical supplies to the International Space Station for the U.S. space agency.
 
But, on the eve of the mission, the launch weather forecaster said there is a 40-percent chance that poor weather could delay the launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida Sunday night [Monday, October 8th at 0035 UTC].
 
The SpaceX unmanned Dragon capsule is set to launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket toward the International Space Station for the second time ever.
 
The company made history in May when its space capsule became the first private vehicle to dock with the ISS.

SpaceX proved worthy in demo
 
SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told reporters at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Saturday evening that the rocket and capsule in this first operational mission are largely the same as the ones used in the successful demonstration flight.
 
"I'm not sure any [members] of the engineering team, frankly, or myself feels like this [mission] is substantially different than the last one with the exception that we got there once," said Shotwell.  "We demonstrated we could do it. So there might be a teeny, teeny bit of relaxation.  Uhm, not a lot though." 
 
NASA has awarded SpaceX a $1.6 billion contract to provide 12 supply flights to the ISS.  
 
Space station partners Russia, Europe and Japan have the ability to deliver cargo to the ISS, but their cargo vessels burn up in the atmosphere during reentry.  The United States has not been able to send supplies to the ISS since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year.      
 
U.S. launch capability is not just a matter of national pride.
 
"When you have a launch vehicle that is in your country, it just makes it a lot easier because literally shipping and customs can kill you when you're trying to get overseas, and this really makes the process faster and allows us to react to anomalies in real time," explained NASA's space station program manager Mike Suffredini.

Scientific & re-supply mission
 
The Dragon will be filled with about 450 kilograms of supplies, including materials critical to scientific research.
 
The capsule will also carry a freezer for experiments - prompting talk that NASA might send ice cream as a sweet surprise to the astronauts.
 
At the end of the month, the capsule will return to Earth carrying space station hardware as well as scientific materials, including research samples.
 
Julie Robinson, a program scientist at NASA, called the first commercial cargo launch "a momentous milestone for research."   
 
"The SpaceX Dragon is a really important vehicle for us because it supports the laboratory use of ISS both in bringing cargo up to the space station and in bringing research samples home, and it has a great return capability," said Robinson.  "It essentially replaces that capacity that we lost when the shuttle retired."

NASA looking beyond Earth orbit
 
The U.S. space agency is focusing on developing a new generation of space vehicle that can travel to an asteroid or Mars, and it is investing in private companies to handle low-Earth orbit transportation, such as trips to the space station. 
  
Howard McCurdy, a professor of public affairs at American University in Washington, says this strategy is a gamble. 
 
"It's a big bet, because what the United States is betting is that the commercial sector can do what NASA seemed incapable of doing in the last days of the shuttle flights, and that is developing a low-cost, high-reliability launch vehicle that can take people and cargo from the surface of the Earth to low-Earth orbit and bring the people back occasionally," says McCurdy.
 
SpaceX says it expects to be ready to carry people into space within three years.  
 
If this first resupply mission goes as planned, astronauts will use the space station's robotic arm to grab and dock the Dragon capsule three days after launch.  Dragon will return to Earth at the end of October.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid