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ISS Captures SpaceX Dragon Capsule

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the congratulations-folks dept.

ISS 217

Today at 9:56AM EDT (13:56 GMT) the robotic arm on the International Space Station successfully captured SpaceX's Dragon capsule. It's the first time a commercial craft has connected with the ISS, and the first time a spacecraft made in the U.S. has gone to the station since the retirement of the shuttle. The approach was delayed temporarily as engineers worked out bad sensor readings due to light reflected off the ISS's Kibo laboratory. "To work around the problem, SpaceX narrowed the field of view for the laser sensor so that it wouldn't pick up light from the offending reflector. Dragon then returned to the 30-meter checkpoint and moved in for the final approach." If all goes well today, the capsule will most likely be opened tomorrow. Video of the operation is being broadcast live on NASA TV.

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Hooray. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109093)

That's it. Just hooray.

Re:Hooray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109149)

Hooray too! There are no comments about this that will appear in this story to remove the fact that my day is a little sweeter for having heard this news.

Cheers SpaceX, I'm toasting to you tonight.

Re:Hooray. (1, Troll)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109207)

I will be mourning the death of publicly-funded space travel. Now, we hand it over to the pirates, slave-traders and privateers of our own era.

Re:Hooray. (4, Insightful)

egamma (572162) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109239)

I will be mourning the death of publicly-funded space travel. Now, we hand it over to the pirates, slave-traders and privateers of our own era.

Citation please. Who has SpaceX robbed or committed violence against? Who has SpaceX enslaved? Which government has authorized SpaceX to attack foreign shipping during wartime?

Re:Hooray. (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109351)

So, you're saying they're really good at covering it all up.

Re:Hooray. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109375)

They enslaved a whole race of people to build their space ship, and funded it by committing terrible acts of piracy on the high seas. The cannon balls whooshed over head and the pirates plundered everyone's sense of humor. It was terrible. A dark day for humanity and jokes.

Re:Hooray. (4, Insightful)

mycroft16 (848585) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109537)

Why? Publicly funded space travel isn't over. NASA has stated, just a few weeks ago, that their goal is Mars. The SLS and Orion are still progressing nicely towards their big tests. No mourning needed.

Re:Hooray. (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40110045)

Although I think the SLS would be an awesome rocket, I ain't holding my breath... we'll be lucky to see that thing fly by 2025, if ever. In the meantime, Falcon Heavy and others will already have captured the heavy lift market. So really, why bother?

Re:Hooray. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109577)

The American people, of course.

Development is mostly NASA's earlier work, plus seed money from NASA.

If you think that "robbing or committing violence" didn't come into it, try not paying your taxes and see what happens.

It's one thing to evade taxation which is used to pay for services that the people have voted for. It is quite another to evade taxation which is used to pay money to private corporations - whether that's Boeing or SpaceX. Just because the propaganda calls this a victory for "private spaceflight" it doesn't mean this is any more than the last of a long line of partnerships of NASA with private aerospace companies. Just because the first hit of SpaceX was cheap (for any fool who regards hundreds of millions of dollars as cheap), it doesn't mean it won't turn into another Boeing.

Re:Hooray. (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109851)

If you think that "robbing or committing violence" didn't come into it, try not paying your taxes and see what happens.

It's one thing to evade taxation which is used to pay for services that the people have voted for. It is quite another to evade taxation which is used to pay money to private corporations - whether that's Boeing or SpaceX.

So, do you think SpaceX isn't better than Boeing or even NASA developing things themselves? SpaceX does things about 10x cheaper than the others, so isn't 10% violence better than 100% violence? How about if SpaceX becomes like Greyhound and NASA goes away completely?

it doesn't mean it won't turn into another Boeing.

They have completely different goals. SpaceX intends to replace NASA. Boeing indend(ed) to suck at the NASA teet in perpetuity.

Re:Hooray. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40110061)

So, do you think SpaceX isn't better than Boeing or even NASA developing things themselves?

No, a new drug gang on the block is not good news, even if they start by selling stuff for cheap. I'm sure you can extrapolate why.

SpaceX does things about 10x cheaper than the others, so isn't 10% violence better than 100% violence?

Isn't it better for me to rape only your sister this year if last year I raped two women?

SpaceX intends to replace NASA.

SpaceX is currently doing the grunt work of Boeing/Lockheed/&c., and with government money. It is not doing the deep space research work of NASA. Even the 19th century titans understood that you can't run institutes of academic research like you run other commercial ventures.

Re:Hooray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109929)

Christ on a crutch-- can we try to not see the dark cloud in every silver lining? Of course I would like my share of taxes to go to what I personally care about (education and healthcare for the least fortunate of our citizens, strippers and booze for the rest of us) but space travel is still pretty neat.
 
And at least it's not shooting at people or blowing stuff up (yet)

Re:Hooray. (2)

jschmitz (607083) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109583)

"pirates, slave-traders and privateers" What exactly are you talking about? Elon Musk is none of those albeit a privateer and what is wrong with that? I like the story about the broken tail piece..NASA would of scrapped the mission for 6 months - SpaceX just removed it and flew on ...you get the idea

Re:Hooray. (0)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109597)

Learn the difference between figurative language and literal language.

The British empire handed over the duties of ocean exploration to private companies, who were more interested in making a buck (pound/guinea) than in serving the public interest. That they did serve the public interest was a secondary effect, but not the intended effect.

Re:Hooray. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109715)

Learn the difference between figurative language and literal language.

The British empire handed over the duties of ocean exploration to private companies, who were more interested in making a buck (pound/guinea) than in serving the public interest. That they did serve the public interest was a secondary effect, but not the intended effect.

No doubt you've discovered that loyalty is no longer the currency of the realm...

Re:Hooray. (2)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109967)

I will be mourning the death of publicly-funded space travel. Now, we hand it over to the pirates, slave-traders and privateers of our own era.

Citation please. Who has SpaceX robbed or committed violence against? Who has SpaceX enslaved? Which government has authorized SpaceX to attack foreign shipping during wartime?

Someone on the SpaceX team downloaded a couple of songs off TPB, so at least in the eyes of the RIAA they are bloodthirsty eyepatch-wearing, peg-legged pirates.

Re:Hooray. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109335)

the u.s. space program has always been in the hands of pirates, slave-traders, and privateers: their names are lockheed martin, boeing, northrop grumman etc. at least now spacex will operate a different model that doesn't include open-ended contracts inevitably milked for all their worth with convenient "cost overruns".

Re:Hooray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109361)

Yeah, its about time the Russians had some competition.

Re:Hooray. (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109387)

I will be mourning the death of publicly-funded space travel. Now, we hand it over to the pirates, slave-traders and privateers of our own era.

That got modded insightful??? I judge from your signature you are Trolling but just in case...
The only way we will get in space big time is if there is profit to be made by being up there; Or are you saying you were rather humans were not in space?
Would you rather we stayed on this rock until the sun consumes us. If we do not push into space now, then when should we?
In anticipation of your next criticism I agree that at the moment investing in space is not the best survival tactic for the near future, Antarctica is sill far more hospitable than LEO; and no matter what happens in the next billion years most of Earth will stay more hospitable than Antarctica; but we have to go there some day so we should as soon as we can and as soon as it is profitable to be there good luck stopping people from going there.
Fine you don't like the survival argument, how about we should go there because what else as a species are we for? To sit around and reproduce and watch daytime TV? No we should do things that no other lifeform we know of has done before or could do.

Re:Hooray. (4, Insightful)

ToadProphet (1148333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109499)

The only way we will get in space big time is if there is profit to be made by being up there

Maybe we need to change this? It's a rather sad statement that profit trumps all and is the only valid motivation for expanding our horizons.

Re:Hooray. (2)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109663)

I like your point, and yes I agree.
I've often argued that the most important thing humans can do is increase the quality of life. This neatly encompasses the pursuit of art, provides a basis for a moral code and improvements in technology. So by what you said then we should pursue things that make humaniity better just because they make things better. But how do you define better? Do I sleep better at night because Man has walked on the moon(yes). But how do you measure that and who do you trust to make those decisions?
To that end for example how much of a cost in terms of reduced quality of life are we prepared to accept now in order that our great grandchildren can have the increased quality of life either from the exploitation of space resources or from just the "Ain't it cool we get to go and play in zero gravity whenever we want" (or even "I'm really annoyed I have to go on that boring history field trip to see the Apollo landing sites")
Anyway I guess what I'm saying is there has to be some way to track what we sacrifice now in order to gain later. Money is a convenient way of doing it but certainly not the only one. Political influence seems to be something that was readily traded as part of the space program.
I guess it comes down to Darwinian Selection doesn't favour those who invest in things that don't get a return. It's harsh and unfair, but as a species we are still constrained by the laws of physics which evolution is really just an expression of. (Finite resources+Variation+growth = selection of best). It sucks and it'd be great to rise above it, but how do we convince people that (for example) you can't have a new car as we need to use those resources for the space program. Far better to say "You can have that car because of materials and technology from the space program".

Re:Hooray. (1)

ravnous (301936) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109797)

Isn't profit an indicator of things getting better? If I sell you something, I hopefully make a profit, and your life is better because you valued what I sold you more than you valued what else you could have bought with that money.

Re:Hooray. (1)

judoguy (534886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109945)

Perhaps you can recall for us all the times really expensive, risky explorations were done for pure altruism? Even the old polar and mountain expeditions were done for glory of person/country. Columbus, et al, were certainly "for profit".

It ain't sad or even completely true. SpaceX is doing something cool and I hope they do make a fortune.

Perhaps you don't mean it this way, but it reminds me of the abhorrent use of the word austerity these days, i.e., all good and beneficence come from the state. If the state cuts back on stuff it give us, we are experiencing "austerity". True austerity can be caused by the state TAKING too much stuff from us! Notice I said too much not some anarchist fantasy of no state at all.

Re:Hooray. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40110003)

Profit is the universal benchmark by how you value effort. About the only two reason you do something without profit is religion, pride, and personal survival.

The pride has been running out of NASA for a long time now. We are not personally struggling to survive with or without them, and they're certainly are not a religion.

Re:Hooray. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40110105)

Maybe we need to change this? It's a rather sad statement that profit trumps all and is the only valid motivation for expanding our horizons.

Change it how?

Through violence by taking money by force? No thanks. I'd rather let people be selfish than enforce my values with the tip of a bayonet.

Through social change? Sure, I'm all for it. Get people excited about going to space. However, if they still don't care. We should respect their freedom to hold that opinion.

Re:Hooray. (2)

Coisiche (2000870) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109535)

in the next billion years most of Earth will stay more hospitable than Antarctica

Actually, in mere tens of millions of years, plate tectonics will push the Antarctic continent into more temperate climes (I guess we'll have to rename it then) and I do believe that Australia is heading for the position currently held by Antarctica.

Re:Hooray. (1)

FacePlant (19134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109609)

> That got modded insightful???
You new to slashdot?

Re:Hooray. (5, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109421)

I will be mourning the death of publicly-funded space travel. Now, we hand it over to the pirates, slave-traders and privateers of our own era.

Uhm... I think you got that wrong. If anything it's the death of "publicly-unfunded" space travel... Because your precious PUBLIC funding is instead funnelling trillions into fighting unwinnable wars on intangible ideas, and trying to spend as little as they can get away with on space travel. It costs more to air-condition our troops than NASA's whole budget. Every time I hear about NASA funding being cut back, or some congress critters mandating purchasing & building around dated rocket tech to keep their lobbyist friends' business afloat I died a little. Now there seems to be a light flickering on at the end of the tunnel.

OPTIONS are good, people. It's not the death of anything in all actuality. NASA's not decommissioned, it's not like they've even stopped rocket research; It's just that we have MORE OPTIONS other than a bureaucracy driven platform held back by the opinions of the ignorant masses...

Re:Hooray. (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109801)

U-rah.

And hooray, indeed, to SpaceX.

Re:Hooray. (2)

bdenton42 (1313735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109447)

SpaceX received $390M worth of public funding from NASA so in reality it is not totally commercial, yet.

Re:Hooray. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109479)

There's plenty of commercial entities that receive huge gobs of money from the government - especially if it's an enterprise that will likely have a lot of public benefit like power plants, telcom fiber, etc.

Re:Hooray. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109665)

SpaceX started the Dragon capsule development independent of any contract by NASA, and they flew the first two flights of the Falcon 9 without any government money being spent at all (except for some range protection at the space port... like happens at any airport around the world). I don't know what your problem is here, but the money coming from the government is not the only reason this is being done.

If it is raining money, you take out a bucket and pick some up. Compared to the over $10 billion that has already been spent toward the Constellation/SLS program and projected $10 billion+ more that they are expecting to spend before something even goes up into the air (2017 at the earliest), is a few hundred million dollars spent on a successful flight to the ISS that is happening now instead of later a waste of money? Had the Ares I funding continued like all of the supporters of Constellation claimed it would do, even with completion of deadlines that were claimed (and never met BTW), it still wouldn't be flying right now and also would have chewed through billions of dollars by now for a rocket that would do even less than the Falcon 9 + Dragon.

The $1.6 billion for the COTS contract is for 12 flights to the ISS. The money is being put in at the front perhaps with milestones completed, but these are chartered flights just like happens when the U.S. military charters commercial airlines to fly military personnel around the world. Contrast that to a cost-plus contract where there is no upper limit that will be spent by the government and any costs (and financial risks) are carried by the government, not the company doing the flight. That is the big difference here.

Re:Hooray. (5, Insightful)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40110031)

It's the difference between:
NASA: We want a shuttle
Boeing/etc: Right give us $5billion and we'll go build one for you.,
NASA: Here's $5 Billion
BOeing./etc: Thanks but we had need some more
NASA: okay
Boeing/etc: Nope still more and if you don't give it to uss you'll have wasted all the moey you threw at us
NASA: okay, well while you're doing that we need to change the requirements
Boeing/etc: Oh, few more billion please, and did i mention it doesn't work very well so we'll want a few more billion.
etc

verses
SpaceX: we want to develop manned flight, look here's us launching a satellite. Anyone interested?
NASA: cool, hey we want that, need some funding?
SpaceX: Sure if you're offering it to us.
NASA okay, well if you can deliver a Falcon 9 and meet the design targets for your Dragon we'll give you $500 Million to build them
SpaceX: Done, can we have our money now?
NASA: Cool you've had a successful launch. We'll pay you for the next launch now then

If you don't see the difference between these two models then I'm somewhat worried. Not that I blame NASA or Boeing or anyone else, it's just what happens when this much money is in play. the only way to fix that is to get the cost down.
If anything this distraction of manned flight has taken them away from their initial goal of developing cheap satellite launch capability. Not that I think they mind but still it shows that they had a business plan without NASa that still exists. See Biglow as well for uses of this manned capability they plan to use.

need some space Chinamen to build a space railroad (1, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109543)

I, for one, welcome an era of interplanetary robber-barons as long as they build us a economical & functional space infrastructure.

Re:need some space Chinamen to build a space railr (-1, Troll)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109643)

It's happened before. much of the laborers on the transcontinental railroad were Chinese immigrants. They were better workers because they heat their water to make tea which also killed bacteria unlike the white guys that drank their water straight from the source (and back then water supply was not as clean like nowadays). I can see it now, white guys spend all their time doing finance stuff, Chinese spend their time doing technical stuff. Going to space is very technical.

Re:need some space Chinamen to build a space railr (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40110085)

I can see it now, white guys spend all their time doing finance stuff, Chinese spend their time doing technical stuff.

Oops, and here I was coding a student records system. My bad, I'll go find something financey to do, I guess.

Re:Hooray. (2)

tool462 (677306) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109925)

Being able to commandeer and board somebody else's spaceship will be a tremendous feat of engineering. If a little rape and pillaging is the motivation someone needs to solve that problem, I think I might actually be okay with that. :)

Re:Hooray. (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40110067)

Am I the only one who saw the comment about space pirates and thought, "awesome!"?

I missed the live video (2)

Quick Reply (688867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109135)

Can someone please post a recording of the approach and capture?

Re:I missed the live video (1)

spec8472 (241410) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109153)

They're still in the process of docking it (watching the live feed now).

Space Docking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109191)

Space docking is when an uncircumcised man wraps his foreskin around the glans of another man.

Which is probably what happened way up there in space after the launch.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Captcha: tossed

Re:I missed the live video (1)

crypticedge (1335931) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109295)

Yes but he wants the parts he missed it looks like (I do too!)

Live Feed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109379)

Am I the only one who saw the guy in the 2nd row at Control pick his nose?

We couldn't resist... (0)

zedtwitz (2450246) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109155)

After all, we had to one-up the Commies!

Smaug? (4, Funny)

MikeMacK (788889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109175)

It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him. Dragons may not have much real use for all their wealth, but they know it to an ounce as a rule, especially after long possession...

Smeg (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109819)

Crew's reaction on opening the capsule:

"It's a smegging garbage pod!!"

TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109187)

Those in Western Washington may want to check to see if they have UWTV2, which for me, carried the broadcast (as NASA TV I guess). But I had to plug the coaxial (from Comcast) directly into a DTV, do a scan, in order to pick up the channel. And it could take a while to flip through and find the channel, especially if it needs to be rescanned. The channel might not be carried on the cable boxes themselves, as is the case for me. (I made a suggestion to Comcast. I hope they do add it to the cable boxes in the future since it already exists as a frequency.) The channel lies probably less than a dozen channels up from the EAS channel if that helps.

Re:TV (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109367)

If you point your FTA dish at the ISS and can track it you can watch the real feed. If your FTA receiver can do all the different broadcast file types.

I am controlling the FTA dish with my Ham radio tracker (Alt-Az FTW bitches) and use it to view.

Problem is I only can watch when they pass in a visible window :-( Dang you line of sight and physics!

Otherwise point your FTA setup at AMC18 at 105.0deg W. Transponders 39 to 41.

Re:TV (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109531)

Boo, you should be hand-pointing a crossed-yagi at it :P

Today ISS (2)

dammy (131759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109229)

Today the ISS, tomorrow LV-426! ;) Gratz to SpaceX and the ISS crew.

sorry, unconstructive emotional comment'n'all, but (5, Insightful)

jthill (303417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109241)

Fucking awesome.

Re:sorry, unconstructive emotional comment'n'all, (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109575)

THIS!

Re:sorry, unconstructive emotional comment'n'all, (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109711)

ME TOO!!!

Re:sorry, unconstructive emotional comment'n'all, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109621)

Yeah I'm with you good time to pull out the America. Fuck Yeah!

Seriously, only in this country can a nobody become a billionaire and then put all his money back into helping man kind!
There is a reason every time something cool is done it's done in America first and usually not even by Americans, lets keep it that way.

no (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40110153)

that comment correctly refers to the first porn they film in space, which hasn't happened yet, but will soon because some doofus just raised $40 million for the endeavour on kickstarter

priorities

That Kibo, still making trouble... (5, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109245)

Now that Usenet is fading into history, is He monitoring the Slashdot feed? We'll see.

Congratulations to SpaceX (4, Informative)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109255)

Everyone should be proud that their dream has come true.

Thank you for your hard work in providing a new capability for space flight.

myke

Re:Congratulations to SpaceX (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109289)

Congratulations indeed on passing such a major test of the systems that we've been hearing about for so long! :D

Finally (1)

Right1488 (2614067) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109273)

Many have chased the dragon, few have actually caught it.

Re:Finally (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109493)

And the few that caught the dragon were reported to be delicious with ketchup.

Finally the private sector is allowed to take over (4, Interesting)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109297)

After half a century of unsustainable government space endeavors, we may finally see some progress toward receiving actual benefits from space flight, now that the profit motive of the private sector has been (at least partially) restored. The strive for profit will necessarily lead to advancements in space tech, as they have in all other industries where long-term profitability is the primary incentive (Silicon Valley being the prime modern example).

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (3, Insightful)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109391)

Profit has always been a motive. Unfortunately, the big aerospace contractors made a profit whether or not they actually did what they were contracted to do. Now companies like SpaceX will profit for actually getting things done, which, as you say, should move things along in the right direction.

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109467)

So, how have the big traditional space contractors like the Rockwell, Boeing, Lockheed, etc., of old, and now United Space Alliance and United Launch Alliance not delivered on their contracts? Saying that it might cost too much by some measure is one thing, but in terms of space launch to LEO you don't get a better record than ULA [youtube.com] . Note, too, that SpaceX is using a significant amount of government infrastructure and personnel to launch and manage its space systems — not to diminish what they're doing one bit.

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109717)

So, how have the big traditional space contractors like the Rockwell, Boeing, Lockheed, etc., of old, and now United Space Alliance and United Launch Alliance not delivered on their contracts?

It's not that they didn't (eventually) deliver. It's that those were done on a cost + basis of if we keep throwing money at it, eventually we'll get it done.

I believe SpaceX is working under a different model. NASA has said "if you can achieve this, we'll pay you $x for each of this many trips". So the costing is fixed up front. Yeah, here [orlandosentinel.com] :

The company has a five-year, $1.5 billion contract to make 12 more deliveries.

So SpaceX did their own development up front and are then selling the lift services for a fixed cost. Hell, I think that works out cheaper per flight that the shuttle was. And it sounds like they've created a more overall usable platform.

Someone like Boeing will spend a decade building it with you, spend a large amount of money, probably have cost overruns. They'll give you something, and it will probably be cool, but you don't really know what it's going to cost you.

SpaceX has just become the longest haul trucking company around. ;-)

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109411)

Who exactly was funding this? Oh right it was the government....

Time to de-orbit the ISS - if SpaceX want to go back into space let them do it on their own dollar!

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109437)

Except for the fact that this project, like other projects, was pretty much paid for by US tax dollars and run by NASA. Cheering this as 'private space flight' is a bit premature.

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (4, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109547)

No it wasn't run by NASA... NASA was the customer and gave a list of conditions to be met... However it was ran by Space X and not NASA

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109489)

Can you please tell me how the government was preventing the private sector from pursuing profit in space for the past fifty years?

--MyLongNickName

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109943)

By banning satellite launches on anything but the shuttle to increase the fly rate of the shuttle to meet their projections.
By the legal requirements a private company had to meet to launch (that were impossible to meet) that were waived on a NASA launch.

Re:Finally the private sector is allowed to take o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109511)

After half a century of unsustainable government space endeavors, we may finally see some progress toward receiving actual benefits from space flight, now that the profit motive of the private sector has been (at least partially) restored. The strive for profit will necessarily lead to advancements in space tech, as they have in all other industries where long-term profitability is the primary incentive (Silicon Valley being the prime modern example).

You do realize that if it wasn't for a government endeavour, there would be no space station for the dragon capsule to dock with?

Its not just "Private Good - Government Bad" (5, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109587)

The strive for profit will necessarily lead to advancements in space tech, as they have in all other industries where long-term profitability is the primary incentive (Silicon Valley being the prime modern example).

SpaceX, Virgin Galactic et. al. aren't going into space because they are private sector.

SpaceX, Virgin Galactic et. al. are going into space because they are run by individuals who have made shedloads of money in other ventures and, instead of being good capitalists and starting work on their next shedload, have decided instead to try and realise their childhood ambition of being an astronaut, if only vicariously (has Elon Musk been sighted since the launch? :-) )

Kudos to them of course - and they may even end up making money - but without that sort of motivation the private sector would, at most, look at ways of making a risk-free buck by launching comms satellites rather than trying to put people into space.

As others have pointed out, the real test will - unfortunately - come the first time someone gets killed. I'm not sure the private sector could afford a Challenger inquiry.

Re:Its not just "Private Good - Government Bad" (4, Interesting)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40110145)

the real test will - unfortunately - come the first time someone gets killed. I'm not sure the private sector could afford a Challenger inquiry.

I hadn't thought of that. Thanks for spoiling my morning :-(
Seriously how did we survive these things in the past, how did we react the first time an airplane killed someone or when the first time a gas light exploded. Why are we so different now?
Are we different now because we can and should know better that these designs have flaws? Would the challenger disaster have been worse if the design had found to not be faulty, or would the public outcry have been worse if the collective result was "Nope we did the best we could, damnded if we know why that went wrong" instead of known flawed design + management overide + unfortunate conditions.
Maybe they'll be lucky and it will live up to its projections of 1/1000 failures and it will take 3000 launches for the statistics to catch up with them. Maybe something as simple as luck in the nascent stages of space flight makes the differences between the civilisations that colonise their galaxies and those that don't. Maybe that;s another variable in the drake equation?

Tractor Beam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109321)

If it were me, I would just use the tractor beam and pull it into the hangar.

Re:Tractor Beam (4, Funny)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109371)

Can't, Obi-Wan dicked with it.

Re:Tractor Beam (3, Informative)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109495)

If it were me, I would just use the tractor beam and pull it into the hangar.

We haven't invented tractor beams yet and they don't have a hangar. Any other bright ideas, captain? No, we can't even go to warp to get any, and the Vulcans are not watching.

As for SpaceX & Dragon && ISS, seriously cool. Keep it up. :-) I for one am cheering for you.

Re:Tractor Beam (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109599)

The problem is Sci-Fi in some regards had made the impossible/impractical come seem like the norm... This is why we put way too much time and money into the shuttle program, We wanted a "reusable" spacecraft like we see in Sci-Fi. Even though it is cheaper per flight to make disposable space craft. But we spent decades on the idea of the Reusable Space craft. I wonder how much further ahead we would be if we focused on the disposable craft.
For one every launch there will be improvements to the craft, because they can. Second you would get a new fresh group of people making crafts all the time so the knowledge and experience is passed to each generation. Third we would have crafts specialized for each mission, the shuttle is a general purpose device... Thus not really fit for any mission.

Re:Tractor Beam (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109653)

"tractor beam", yeah, no. You can push stuff with a beam fairly simply... pulling is just ridiculous. The only switchable macro scale pulling forces that we can create are EM fields... not beams. EM fields can bend light, or tug on objects -- or repel objects if you use eddy currents -- you know, like what the aluminum can recycling systems use. Photon beams can push things too.

You keep on with your "tractor beams", as us Romulans just laugh: "Look at the apes trying to push a rope!"

capture and release program (0)

BetaDays (2355424) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109359)

They captured a Dragon. I hope they don't hurt it. Also it had better be a capture and release program otherwise PETA will get involved!

Canada Arm 2 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109385)

Didn't want to call it the Canada Arm 2? Had to go with the more generic Robotic Arm? :p Lame

Score! (0)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109405)

Nation of North Korea - 0
Company in America - 1

North Korea, I think you need to shift your focus back on things like feeding your starving masse and leave the heavens for those that are exporting food aide, not importing it.

Re:Score! (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109521)

You'd better watch what you say about North Korea or else they will reduce you to ashes in 3-4 minutes

Its not a commercial craft (3, Insightful)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109477)

If the money that's paying for it is coming from taxes, its not commercial.

NASA hardware has always been built primarily by private companies like Lockheed Martin.

In Washington jargon, when you give money to contractors instead of federal employees, its "commercial" or "free enterprise", so they can pretend to be in favor of freedom and against government. But one of the main reasons for it is its a way of evading controls on executive salaries. There's a revolving door where government program managers funnel lucrative contracts to private companies with ridiculously high overhead rates, then afterwards go to work at those companies. Its common to already have a hiring agreement with the company before awarding the contract.

I'm not suggesting what the situation is with SpaceX, I'm just commenting on "commercial" space development in general. Its commercial if its commercial activity, such as space tourism or putting up satellites that private companies pay for. Otherwise its double-speak.

In any case, congrats on the engineering achievement, I don't mean to detract from that.

Re:Its not a commercial craft (1, Interesting)

tukang (1209392) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109661)

There have been articles on how space travel is now sustainable but the sole customer here is the government and this is no more sustainable than all those solar companies that were making billions just a few years ago but are now teetering on the verge of bankruptcy now that gov't subsidies have evaporated (First Solar for example has gone from being a $15B+ to being a $1B+ company in 1 year).

I think this is a great achievement but let's not fool ourselves, this is not a private venture that's sustainable w/o taxpayer support.

Privately funded (5, Interesting)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109683)

If the money that's paying for it is coming from taxes, its not commercial.

You are correct in a sense. The current primary customer (NASA) happens to be a government agency and that agency does pay with tax dollars. Saying it is commercial is very much a short hand for a more complicated story. SpaceX also already has contracts with private sector companies as well. Furthermore its operations and R&D were funded privately initially to the tune of something like $400 million. Funding from NASA has come from progress payments on launch contracts. The fact that NASA is a government agency is somewhat incidental to the operations of SpaceX. Our company has had the government as a customer (we've sent products into space) in the past but that doesn't mean we aren't a private company or that what we do isn't commercial.

Re:Its not a commercial craft (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109755)

I'm not suggesting what the situation is with SpaceX

What does your subject line mean then?

If NASA buys toilet paper from a commercial vendor, that doesn't turn the toilet paper manufacturer into a government boondoggle.

SpaceX is commercial in the sense that they offer a product for a price. When you have government contractors who charge "some base amount plus whatever else cost overruns demand the price to increase to" then, yeah, it's a quasi-government entity. SpaceX will eat cost overruns, if they happen, but that's bad for profitability so they try to ensure it doesn't (with good engineering and business acumen). That isn't to say that fleecing government agencies doesn't show good business acumen, but it's also not a private sector endeavour.

Re:Its not a commercial craft (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109939)

I'm not suggesting that its a boondoggle. I'm suggesting that the use of the word "commercial" is misleading.

Government contracts I have worked on never went over budget, the contract size was fixed from the outset. But it was still mostly a matter of semantics and accounting that we were private and not government employees.

Lockheed Martin is a private company that has private customers besides the government. When the name NASA went on their products, this was political as much as anything. So why don't we call Lockheed Martin a private space company? Or General Dynamics or Alliant Techsystems? I'm not saying SpaceX is a bad company. I'm saying that the dichotomy between private and public space activity, as presented in the press, is largely though not entirely fictional, and that this clearly applies to SpaceX. Again I'm not denigrating SpaceX, they may be a great company. Its the spin that I'm commenting on.

Re:Its not a commercial craft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109867)

Okay so what is wrong with this?

My government had a need and instead of going to the usual suspects they went to a new company and they more that succeeded at it.
So ignoring that boring fact and mix in it's ran by a billionaire trying to help humanity with his well deserved riches in many ways.

He just hired a lot of smart people in many fields and is that a bad thing? Shoot me if you think so.
http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/bolden/posts/post_1337631161687.html

However it is not government (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109875)

I don't think it is fair to classify them based on who is paying for the ride.

Lockheed Martin never had a goal of standing on their own, they always relied on the government to pick up the tab.Space X seems to be going from the direction of "We take the risk" more so than true defense contractors.

Space X also can provide services to other commercial and national interests. They certainly do not have the cost structure the truly government funded launches used.

Re:Its not a commercial craft (4, Informative)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109911)

Commercial versus non-commercial is about a company building a standard product which the government utilizes through firm fixed price contracts. SpaceX has a published price for a launch, and that's exactly what they charge. In contrast the traditional NASA approach has been to award cost plus contracts to major contractors and an army of subcontractors and NASA is more of a partner than a customer, building a one-off custom design. In this type of system cost overruns often get billed to the customer (NASA), but with firm fixed price the work is expected to be completed for the agreed upon price and SpaceX has stated that any cost overruns on their NASA programs above the fixed price launch costs will be covered by SpaceX, not NASA.

Contract vehicles notwithstanding, it also appears that even in NASA's opinion SpaceX is simply more efficient at getting things done than the usual NASA & defense contractor method probably due to reduced management and organizational overhead: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/586023main_8-3-11_NAFCOM.pdf [nasa.gov]

A big part of SpaceX's efficiency is that they are vertically integrated, doing most of the work themselves. With the non-commercial cost-plus model Congress had the ability to split up subcontracts for the shuttle development and manufacturing across the entire nation, with drastic hits to efficiency.

Although it may not seem like a totally commercial enterprise with NASA as the major source of SpaceX's revenue (for now), but there are important changes taking place in how NASA is acquiring launch capacity which seem like they have the capability to reduce costs over the past model

Will they have to use The Arm in the future? (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109529)

Is using the robotic arm the only way the Dragon spacecraft will be allowed to dock with the ISS? It seems to be cumbersome and to take a long time.

Or is this only being done now for safety reasons and, with more experience, a direct approach and docking will be allowed?

Re:Will they have to use The Arm in the future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109611)

It seems NASA mainly uses the berthing method to dock stuff to ISS. When docking to the Russian or Japanese modules they do normal docking (they can't do it this way as ISS only has 1 arm) but NASA usually uses the arm.

That said the NASA modules can do docking also but they prefer to berth as it must be easier/safer.

Re:Will they have to use The Arm in the future? (4, Informative)

adamgundy (836997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109813)

berthing is *harder* than docking. they are doing it this way because it is a cargo transport, and the berthing ports are much larger than the docking ports.

if/when Dragon starts carrying people, it will dock.

Re:Will they have to use The Arm in the future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40109739)

tractor beam?

Mixed blessings (5, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109593)

(Disclaimer: I work in aerospace)

Private sector space exploration is a mixed blessing without regulatory oversight.

The FAA does wonders for ensuring consistent manufacturing and engineering policies, as do the various ISO industrial process certification programs for industrial centers.

Government sponsored engineering tends to be a total money and resource sink, and what comes out tends to look like the engineers went out of their way to make things needlessly cryptic and arcane to justify their bills.

Essentially, the equivalent of a 500 line "hello world!", which ignores normal OS window classes, allocates and frees its own memory, and has an integrated kernel runtime to make sure nobody is snooping on the secret sauce from outside of userspace.

Private designs tend to shy away from uniqueness, and toward stringent use of the KISS principle, but may excessively use protected engineering documentation and practices. (Imagine somebody writing their own application API on top of the perfectly functional standard one for their target, and locking that bitch down so tight that its like watching a snuff film, then using it religiously to keep people from "copying" their ideas. Nevermind that all their competitors are also working from the KISS handbook on the actual engineering, and that the differences are all almost entirely process related. Fit form and function is conserved.)

Oversight helps to keep these proprietary engineering toolbases under control, and helps ensure interoperability of critical systems, like runway boarding ramps on the aircraft's skin, type of fuel used, and standard cabin pressures.

Without the unifying influence of such oversight, no airplane in the sky would follow any standards except internal OEM ones. An airbus and a boeing offering would not use the same cabin pressure (just to throw something out there), because one of them would get the brightt idea to lower it 5psi so they could fly a little higher and reduce skin stresses as a competative edge.

Space vehicles, being radically new to private industry, would be especially vulnerable to marketing and PR drones dictating on the engineering so that the vehicle stands out from the crowd, even though that is a terrible thing for interoperability.

So, while I like the leaner design implementations that come out of private companies, I strongly advocate oversight and regulatory compliance for safety and interoperability reasons.

Otherwise the specs on a private spaceship will be a countless mess of cross-referencing NDA laden proprietary internal standards docs, and as an engineer for a company that does outsourced work from the big boys, I only have so much goddam space on my desk for binders full of proprietary specifications so I can read somebody's engineering properly. "Torque bolts to LES####" is fine and dandy if you work for learjet. For the rest of us, I'm happy to get an AME or NAS number that I can look up instead of calling your support line, talking with a string of bobbleheads behind desks who are more concerned over weather or not I might discuss what's in a spec for tightening bolts with "unauthorized" people, and if I am indeed authorized to know the secret of the bolt tightening in the first place. I'm an engineer. Just give me the damn spec, your corporate crap smells up my day.

Regulatory oversight makes things magically simpler, because it forces LES#### to be compliant with a standard AMS#### or similar regulatory body that I don't have to suck a dick to get my hands on.

I'm thrilled that the dragon heavy lifter works. It opens all sorts of doors for much cheaper orbital deployments, and the soyouz capsules were starting to have unreliable failure rates from excessive use and improper maintenance downtimes. This will work wonders.

But for FSM's sake, institute some damned industry regulations!

Re:Mixed blessings (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40110025)

Disclaimer I work in aerospace also.

Private sector space exploration is a mixed blessing without regulatory oversight

People that think like you are exactly the reason government contracts are so expensive. The "oversight" you speech of is having more managers and people with MBAs. The "oversight" that don't really know much of anything and add 20-50% cost overhead to any project. The "oversight" adds no real value what so ever because they are NOT QUALIFIED to provide oversight. Remember the "oversight" was exactly the reason for the Columbia disaster , the manager types/overhead overruled the engineers.

The FAA does wonders for ensuring consistent manufacturing and engineering policies, as do the various ISO industrial process certification programs for industrial centers.

ISO certifications ,remember the whole Office Open XML ISO debacle.

SpaceX removed the overhead , made hard requirements that don't change and the cost is down. Big example of removing overhead the CEO is also the Chief Designer , unlike other aerospace companies where they have advance degrees in management.
Most of the large aerospace companies were originally started by engineer types but the suits took over and the companies just got more expensive along with less innovation.

Re:Mixed blessings (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 2 years ago | (#40110115)

Right now, anything launching to the ISS undergoes the regulations of "We're NASA and we're paranoid, so shut up and show us every last detail or we won't let you near our launchpad or station". There is plenty of room to relax that standard and still remain safe and efficient.

Am I the only one . . . (4, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 2 years ago | (#40109837)

. . . who hopes that there's an inflatable, spring-loaded Xenomorph puppet poised behind the capsule's hatch?

"Heh - heh. You'll find a complimentary set of new underwear for the crew in Bin 13."

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