Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SpaceX Dragon Launch

SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation) was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal.  They are the first commercial company to launch a spacecraft that will deliver supplies the ISS (International Space Station).  The launch of Dragon aboard the Falcon 9 Rocket went ahead 22nd May 2012 at  3.44am EST at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

NASA SpaceX Mission:  

The original May 19th SpaceX Dragon launch schedule had to be aborted when high pressure in combustion chamber 5 was detected.  

SpaceX have been working with NASA on the project for the last six years. On Friday 25th May 2012, if the Thursday "fly-under" the ISS is successful, the Dragon capsule will be captured by ISS astronauts, Donald Pettit and Andre Kuipers, using Canadarm 2.  

Once docked to the Harmony Node the capsules 460 kilograms cargo of food and supplies will be unloaded.  This operation will take around 2 weeks.  Before Dragon is detached from the Harmony Node it will then be loaded with 620 
kilograms of return cargo. If all goes to plan this will be how future supplies will be delivered to and from the space station since the retirement of the Space Shuttles last 
year and why this is an historic event. 

Splashdown in the Pacific Ocean is expected to occur roughly 4 - 4.5 hours after the capsule detaches from the space station. 

SpaceX Website
SpaceX Press Release : Successful launch kicks off SpaceX's historic mission
Nasa Press Release : SpaceX Launches NASA Demonstration Mission to Space Station

Update 31st May 2012: Mission will not be two weeks long, the capsule is now scheduled to return to earth May 31st.

Photo Credit:  NASA 

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