SpaceX Dragon V2

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently gave us a sneak peak of the new Dragon spacecraft, the V2, being designed to transport up to seven astronauts into and back from orbit.

The V2 will land without a parachute, plus the technology makes for a built in escape system should a problem occur during launch.

I wonder how long will the transition from animation to reality take? I have a feeling not long, SpaceX is an amazing company.


Dragon Makes a Splash

The Space X Dragon cargo ship splashes down.  Credit: NASA

The Space X Dragon cargo ship splashes down. Credit: NASA

There is a great video of the SpaceX Dragon leaving the space station, the video was done in a time lapse so the whole process is shown in 7.5 minutes. See it here.

Update:  This image makes a very nice desktop background.  Get yours at the Wallpaper link above!

From NASA:

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down at 3:05 p.m. EDT Sunday, in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 300 miles west of Baja California, returning more than 3,500 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from the International Space Station.
A boat will carry the Dragon spacecraft to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo, including a freezer packed with research samples collected aboard the space station, will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours.
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Cygnus Launch Delayed

Orbital Sciences Antares and Cygnus being rolled back out to the pad. Image: Orbital / NASA

Orbital Sciences Antares and Cygnus being rolled back out to the pad. Image: Orbital / NASA

The Cygnus cargo ship launch to the International Space Station has been rescheduled again. You may remember in December the launch was delayed because of the cooling pump problem on the ISS which required a series of spacewalks to repair.

This time the delay is the weather, specifically cold temperatures causing the delay, but only for a day.  The day/night temperatures for Tuesday are in the minus 5 to minus 10 C (22 to 16 F) range with freezing precipitation also expected.  The low end of the temperature range acceptable for launch is minus 7 (20 F),  So the weather is cutting it close and there is no compelling reason to rush things.  It’s kind of nice they can just roll Antares in and out of storage “relatively” easily, quite efficient.

At the moment the launch is scheduled for 8 January at 18:32 UTC from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

This mission dubbed Orb-1 will be the first of eight resupply missions to be conducted by Orbital Sciences under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. This time around Cygnus will be carrying approximately 1465 kg (3,230 lbs.) of cargo to the ISS.

The launch will be carried live by NASA-TV, you should be able to see the coverage at the NASA TV link at the top of the page.

Orbital also has a satellite being launched by SpaceX scheduled for later today.  Launch time:  22:50 UTC.  Coverage may be available here.

The satellite, the Thiacom 6 is a communications satellite that according to the Oribtal website will “carries a hybrid Ku- and C-band payload that will generate approximately 3.7 kilowatts of payload power. The Ku-band payload is comprised of eight active transponders that will provide services to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The C-band payload features 12 active C-band transponders that will provide services via a regional beam to Southeast Asia, and six active C-band transponders that will provide services via a south Africa beam to southern Africa and Madagascar.”



Cygnus Delay for ISS Fix

The raising of the Antares rocket on 16-Dec.  Atop the Antares is the Cyguns cargo ship with supplies destined for the International Space Station (ISS).  Image: Orbital Sciences/NASA

The raising of the Antares rocket on 16-Dec. Atop the Antares is the Cyguns cargo ship with supplies destined for the International Space Station (ISS). Image: Orbital Sciences/NASA

The Antares was raised upright in anticipation of a launch later today, 19-Dec. However due to the cooling control valve problem on the space station the launch was postponed until mid-January.

We sort of knew the delay was coming, so it’s not a big surprise. As for the cooling valve, the fix will be accomplished by a series of spacewalks by (NASA) astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins to replace the pump module.

The spacewalks will occur on December 21, 23 and 25. The replacement pump module is one they have “on the shelf” on the external stowage platform. The offending control valve is mounted on this pump module in case you were wondering.

Live streaming video by Ustream

I hope to be watching as coverage is going to be on NASA-TV and a link here if one is available and usually NASA is very good about such things. I am very interested in how the pump module is interfaced, always open to new ideas you see. The spacewalks are going to take six and a half hours EACH. Wow! Hope the suits work well and there is not water in the helmet issues. TV coverage (and hence the linked video) will begin at 06:15 EST / 11:15 UTC.

As for the raised Antares rocket, they will lower it and put it in “storage” out of the elements.

SpaceX Launch Replay

Finally the video hits YouTube. I watched this as it happened and kept saying “wow”. This is one of the better launch videos out there. No animation upon satellite separation here.

Do check it out.

Congrats to SpaceX on the first commercial mission, putting the SES-8 satellite in a geostationary orbit to provide HD communications to India and southeast Asia.

Also thanks to for putting it up.

Sizzle and Poof

First the sizzle:

ISON appears to have lost a lot of it’s “comet goodness” during its sizzling close-encounter with the Sun. There does seem to be a little bit of it left and a tail seems to be growing as you can see at the very end of this (SOHO) video at the ESA channel. How long will it last and is there really anything left that the solar wind won’t strip away? Too soon to tell.

I was watching television this morning and the program did one of those “cut-ins” with a “news” network, one that I never watch on its own, and they were declaring ISON dead. This is the same “news” network ridiculing SpaceX for aborting last afternoon’s launch attempt, the attempt being the second this week and how inept they were yada-yada.

I did see the launch attempt and no the launch didn’t happen, still, it was quite exciting. The abort came at the moment after the main engines lit off, then poof it was over. No word on the reason for this abort yet. You must know the coverage by Space X was excellent, the two hosts and non-PR Space X employees, Molly and John were awesome in their explanations of the events of the countdown and mission. They made the time spent watching worth it. Really a very-very good job.


Fuzzy Dice

Here is a video taken yesterday (02 Nov 13) of the Dream Chaser. The Dream Chaser is billed as a space taxi and it being built by Sierra Nevada Corporation.

This was a debut test flight for the spacecraft in California and while all appearances the flight went quite well right up to the end. You can see that there was a problem in the deployment of a wheel on the landing gear. The resulting skid of the unmanned vehicle was not shown.

You at first think this would be a setback, but I am willing to bet Sierra Nevada would not necessarily agree. sure there was a problem and they would be much more pleased if things went perfectly, however progressive companies tend not to dwell on the negatives as much as they do with learning how to avoid such instances in the future. It’s easy to see far more insight was gained than just the flight dynamics of Dream Chaser – they got to see what happens when things go bad.

Interesting to see the different approaches to space travel the private industry is brining to the table. Sierra Nevada Corp. may be only in the development phase of the Dream Chaser they are anything but new to space and other advanced technologies, for example they helped get the rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Check them out.

Fuzzy dice? Watch the video and you will know where that came from.