The Falcon portion (booster rocket) will also be reusable, although for now it disintegrates in the atmosphere.
I forgot to add, after 17 successful ISS resupply missions, Dragon would acquire "manned rated" status. Then you'd see NASA astronauts being launched up to and carried down from ISS in Dragon capsules. In one of the press conferences a couple days ago, a NASA rep estimated that would be 2015.
As far as private citizens being launched up to orbit (not ISS), SpaceX gets to decide that date.
NASA TV will be broadcasting the operations beginning at 1am Austin time. This will mostly be "go/no-go" checks, thruster firings, and abort tests, scheduled to begin at 1:15am or so.
SpaceX will be webcasting the berthing with SpaceX employee commentary beginning at 6:30am Austin time. Sorry, I don't have a link right now. Can probably be found on their website.
The direct ISS ustream feed is always up, but it usually doesn't show much:
(If you see LOS in the bottom of the picture that means the ISS is temporarily out of range.)
NASA TV just confirmed the grappling procedures are set to begin at 7am Austin time.
Dragon has reached the keep-out sphere (250 meters) and is holding there. All that stands before the 10-meter station approach is two abort tests ("go back" and "hold").
There was an amazing ~60 second live video shot of Dragon firing its thrusters.
Capture time now set for 1310 GMT (0810am CDT).
To be honest - getting even to *this* point is a big feather in SpaceX's cap. Performing a rendezvous with two spacecraft is a non-trivial venture - and requires a good deal of coordination, planning, and lots of mathematics! I truly hope that SpaceX was able to take what we did at NASA and use/expand it to meet their mission.
If they did that (i.e., didn't re-invent everything when they didn't have to), then this venture will be successful for reasons *beyond* just bringing up some cargo to ISS.
FYI - SpaceX has called a hold on the approach to change modes on the Dragon LIDAR (laser ranging device). This hold wasn't part of the nominal rendezvous plan. Dragon sits at about 250 feet right now and waiting.
SpaceX has now commanded a retreat for Dragon - don't know why or for how long yet... standing by for the rationale to be made public.
Dragon had been on approach and was at approximately 200 ft when the retreat command was sent.
Last edited by RamjetFDO; 05-25-2012 at 08:32 AM. Reason: update
Dragon holding at 240 ft - SpaceX wanted to look at data from Dragon's LIDAR sensor... don't know what data was seen that caused the retreat.
It appears that the LIDAR sensor is acquiring the wrong target on ISS (one of the reflectors on the Japanese Kibo module instead) - SpaceX is looking into whether they can fix it.
Could they approach ISS with that sensor malfunctioning? Probably. But this is a test flight - so get it right, if you can, and do it the way they're supposed to do it!
SpaceX has a plan (narrow the FOV on LIDAR to exclude those stray reflections) - should have a better idea in 5-10 minutes
DragonSquint mode enabled - resume command being sent shortly
Capture time now approximately 940am CDT... updates coming soon.
What % of SpaceX employees used to work for NASA? Are there a lot of noobs in their mission control?
Very interesting stuff. Keep on with the updates, Ramjet and Grammer!
I am actually looking forward to seeing if there are any new ground-breaking operational changes over the next few years as all of the Commercial Space companies get into the act.
SpaceX team is GO to depart 30m for 10m. ISS MCC team is polling now. They will wait for the proper lighting/timing to actually start the approach, though.
clear for docking bay 94.
Approaching now - approximately 20 minutes to reach the 10m capture point hold.
Capture point arrival at 845am CDT. First capture oppty at night (!!) - NLT 902am CDT.
ISS crew asking if they can grab at their discretion! :)
MCC says "crew's discretion".
(I'll snag some obviously higher quality images later - this is good enough for near-real-time)
10m and holding - one last MCC poll before capture attempt
Dragon now on single LIDAR - will abort if that LIDAR fails.
GO for capture from ISS MCC.
Seems like plenty of lighting to see the capture target (three-pronged target in middle of circle at the bottom center of this image):
ISS robot arm in motion towards Dragon...
"Houston, confirmed, we have the Dragon by the tail."
Last edited by RamjetFDO; 05-25-2012 at 10:02 AM.
Alright, now that there is awesome.
amazing day. great work, everyone...
Yes, congratulations all around.
So is it just me or did the world just change in a radical way? If a private company can become profitable in space doesn't that open up opportunities that will revolutionize our lives? Sure, it'll still take a while, but this is the true beginning of the space race isn't it?
Now - having said that - the commercial air industry took a long time getting started before becoming profitable, and even some of *them* still have issues turning profits (a fair percentage due to gov't interference, naturally).
It's a start. It's a great start... but still just a "small step" that (hopefully) will lead to larger things later.
Lined up and ready... and waiting...
I see it as the equivalent of privatizing the internet, but maybe I'm being overly optimistic. If SpaceX is making money on the government projects, they can use the profits to fund other projects. I just see this bringing other entrepreneurs and visionaries to the table. There are lots of billionaires out there. Once they start throwing money around, who knows what will happen.
I realize they are already in play, but success tends to breed success and optimism. Now the first time one of them performs a mission that is not government funded and makes money on the deal, well, then it's truly on!
I'd like to see another Moon mission. I think Mars is a good dream... but I just don't see it being possible with our current technologies. Doesn't it take like 2 years just to get there? I'd love to see it happen though.
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