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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid