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ISS Robotic Arm Captures Dragon Capsule

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the capitalists-...-in-space! dept.

ISS 147

puddingebola writes "From the aricle, 'The SpaceX Dragon capsule has been successfully grabbed by the International Space Station, marking the first time a private American space flight has run a supply mission to the orbiting platform. The crew of the ISS snatched Dragon out of orbit ahead of schedule, using the space station's robotic arm to guide the capsule in after its careful approach.' NASA has also posted video of the docking."

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147 comments

Second? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606285)

Isn't this the second time that the dragon module has docked with the ISS?

Re:Second? (1)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606335)

No.

Re:Second? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606407)

Yes.

Re:Second? (2)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609065)

No. Under the NASA contract, each supply run requires a brand new Dragon module. So this is the first time and the only time this particular Dragon will dock at the station.

Having said that, another Dragon has visited the ISS. However, that was during a qualification/demonstration mission, rather than a run-of-the-mill supply mission.

Re:Second? (4, Informative)

Tx (96709) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606417)

I seem to be wrong, according to wikipedia, there was demo flight [wikipedia.org] in May, my memory ain't what it used to be. I guess since that is classed as a test rather than a supply mission, hence the "first" in TFA.

Re:Second? (4, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607201)

Yes, this follows a long trend of marketing hyperbole and rationalization. For example, a car is voted "best in its class," say the ads. The ads don't explain that the "class" is carefully gerrymandered to only include two models, one of which has been out of production for a decade. I've taught my daughter that every adjective is making the marketing claim less impressive, not more impressive. It may very well be the best four-wheel cross-over sport utility soft-topped off-road casual zero-emission vehicle built in North America, but that's not saying much.

Re:Second? (1)

TWX (665546) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607985)

It's more important to know who designated the vehicle "best in its class". There are some classes that are easy, like low-midline compacts, luxury compacts, low-midline mid-size, luxury mid-size, low-midline full-size, and luxury full-size. Those are classes that various consumer magazines and the like use, and are much more realistic.

Kudos for teaching your child skepticism early. That's important, and I wish that I'd learned that at a younger age than I did. I would have wasted less money on crappy toys.

Re:Second? (2)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609187)

low-midline full-size? Do you seriously think consumers who buy these things know any of such class lingo?! It's all shit conjured for marketing purposes only. Every damn car out there is "best in X". It's all meaningless crap. You get in the car, drive in it, and figure out if it works for you. That's all there's to it. Car ads are pretty useless to the consumer.

Re:Second? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606487)

Second time. Per SpaceX.com,

Building on Success
Prior to this flight, SpaceX successfully completed two demonstration flights using Falcon 9 and Dragon under NASA’s
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. The second of those missions, from May 22–31, 2012,
marked the first time that a private company had launched a spacecraft into orbit, successfully attached to the station,
delivered a payload, and returned safely to Earth—a highly challenging technical feat previously accomplished only by
governments.

It looks like this mission is the first official cargo resupply mission for the contract SpaceX has with NASA. The previous one that also took up supplies (albeit non-essential per plan) was designated a demonstration flight.

Maybe folks want to get pedantic on what does and does not constitute docking, that above description of the May demonstration flight sure sounds like it docked.

Second docking but first contracted supply mission (5, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606573)

Right, in May they demonstrated docking to the Space Station, but it wasn't a supply mission, it was a launch and docking demonstration flight. That first flight did carry some miscellaneous stuff and some student experiments, but it wasn't carrying supplies critical to station operation.

As the summary says, this was the first actual contracted supply mission.

Re:Second docking but first contracted supply miss (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606869)

So on that subject, did these guys get paid this time?
I'm curious what they charged NASA, what they actually spent on this launch (not R&D costs to get here, just costs to build, fuel and launch).
It would be interesting to see if this is cheaper for NASA, and actually profitable for SpaceX, or if it's really just creative accounting making it look good.

(Yes I could probably Google what NASA is paying, but the real costs for SpaceX are a bit beyond a simple search)

Re:Second docking but first contracted supply miss (3, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607359)

It is not hard for me to see how SpaceX could make a good profit and still be cheaper than NASA. I suspect they don't have pensions on their budget. I suspect people work more than 40 hours a week, and without an expectation of overtime. I suspect they don't have 50-year-old facilities scattered throughout states in a way that only makes sense once you consider congressional districts. And finally, if they fail they go out of business. When NASA fails, the schedule slips. I have a feeling that given this incentive, they will manage risk differently...

Re:Second docking but first contracted supply miss (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608087)

You make the false assumption that NASA is just a whole bunch of government employees. In reality there are thousands of contractors or employees of contractors working for NASA's goals, and they are likely paid the same in terms of salaried, overtime exempt employment contracts as any other high tech engineering employee.

If SpaceX did anything, it removed the, "must build something for the Shuttle in each state" mantra, so that things are built where they make sense to build them. There apparently had been a company that could have built solid rocket boosters for the shuttle as one-piece structures and barged them to Florida instead of multiple 14' segments with those demonized o-rings, but Utah's Thiokol built 'em instead and had to segment them to bring them by rail.

Simply ending the need to split things up stupidly is alone going to help the costs.

Re:Second docking but first contracted supply miss (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608171)

It is not hard for me to see how SpaceX could make a good profit and still be cheaper than NASA.

I think the biggest factor is NASA having to go through the traditional defense contractors who are also making a profit, but with cost-plus contracts.

Do I think SpaceX could make a good profit and still be cheaper than Lockheed or Boeing? Yes. Yes I do.

So at the end of the day this is cheaper for NASA.

Re:Second docking but first contracted supply miss (1)

tibman (623933) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607813)

The spacex website says a falcon9 launch is $54mil for 2012.

Price (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609197)

So on that subject, did these guys get paid this time?
I'm curious what they charged NASA, what they actually spent on this launch (not R&D costs to get here, just costs to build, fuel and launch)...

The spacex website says a falcon9 launch is $54mil for 2012.

That may be the cost quoted on the website, but they are charging NASA $133 million per launch. Development costs and the costs of the demonstration flights were charged (also to NASA) separately.

"SpaceX and NASA signed a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract in December 2008 for 12 flights to the space station through 2015."
http://spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120602crs/ [spaceflightnow.com]

$1.6B/12 launches = $133.3M/flight

Re:Second docking but first contracted supply miss (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609207)

Given that NASA was never in business of making rockets, I don't know what's your point, exactly. Oh, if you ask whether SpaceX provides services for a better price than Space Alliance or any other competitor out there: you bet. Vastly better price.

Re:Second? (2)

treerex (743007) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606493)

It's the second time a Dragon has berthed with the ISS and delivered cargo. The first one occurred earlier this year and was a "demonstration" mission showing that it was possible. This was the first "real" mission. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COTS_Demo_Flight_2#Payload [wikipedia.org]

Re:Second? (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609231)

It did deliver cargo last time, although the mission wasn't labeled as a cargo mission. IOW: last time, had they failed, the PR would have been different. It was "only a test". This time, it was a "resupply". Failed test vs. failed resupply -- pretty obvious PR slant.

Re:Second? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606379)

I thought the same thing.

According to wikipedia a "berthing" with ISS occured in may. English isn't my first language but I think that means it was grabbed by the arm but remained at a safe distance, not completing the docking procedure.

Re:Second? (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609253)

Yeah, because you couldn't go straight to the horse's mouth and look things up on SpaceX's website. Don't use ESL as an excuse. It's not.

Re:Second? (3, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609281)

Berthing and Docking are essentially the same thing. The difference is that with docking, the spacecraft is active and the station is passive. The spacecraft lines itself up with the station and connects to it. With berthing, the station is active and the spacecraft is passive. The spacecraft hovers near the station and the station reaches over and grabs it with one of the Canadarms. In both cases, the spacecraft will wind up attached to one of the station's airlocks, so that personnel and cargo can be transferred.

Video of the capture (4, Informative)

2phar (137027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606375)

Re:Video of the capture (2)

2phar (137027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606405)

And it's just now officially installed (2nd stage) as of 9:03am EST

Re:Video of the capture (4, Interesting)

stjobe (78285) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606617)

That video... sure isn't action-packed.

At first I thought I was watching a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Like 2001, this video is interesting but slow :)

Re:Video of the capture (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606999)

There is a reason it looks like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

That movie was based upon reality due to the fact that the director, Stanley Kubrick, wanted to portray something realistic considering that there were real spacecraft going to real places (like the Moon) at the time he was making and released the film. Most other "science fiction" movies gloss over this reality in a horrible way. The only time you get something action packed is when something goes horribly wrong... and perhaps at launch when huge amounts of energy are being released.

Then again do you enjoy watching videos of your father parking his car in the driveway?

Re:Video of the capture (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607483)

There is a reason it looks like 2001: A Space Odyssey. That movie was based upon reality due to the fact that the director, Stanley Kubrick, wanted to portray something realistic considering that there were real spacecraft going to real places (like the Moon) at the time he was making and released the film.

Compare 2001 with Apollo 13. None of Apollo 13 was boring, and it was as accurate a depiction of the actual event that they could do. They even shot the in-capsule space scenes in the Vomit Comet. What made parts of 2001 boring was the model shots, which lasted way too long. It wasn't the story, but how the story was told.

Speaking of the Vomit Comet and the ISS, did they shoot the ISS scenes in last week's Big Bang Theory on the Comet? It looked as real as Apollo 13.

Re:Video of the capture (2)

dpilot (134227) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607911)

But then again, in Apollo 13, something did go horribly wrong. It was nip and tuck several times whether or not they would survive. Had the mission gone as planned, it would have been quite boring, and they never would have made a movie of it. Don't forget that by the later Apollo missions there was practically no TV coverage at all. Though there was good TV coverage of the Apollo 17 liftoff from the moon, since that was the first time it could ever be seen live. I certainly was glued to the screen, at the time.

Re:Video of the capture (3, Informative)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608225)

The slowest space scene in Apollo 13 was when the command+service module separated from the 3rd stage, then flipped 180 degrees to dock with and extract the lunar module. The whole scene took a minute or so, with tense music accompaniment.

In reality it would've taken much longer; on Apollo 17 it took 15 minutes just to dock, and some more time to check everything before extraction. On Apollo 14 it took six attempts and over two hours, before they finally docked successfully. Apollo 13 is one of my favourite movies, but it's still Hollywood entertainment, with pacing and embellishments to match, and not a documentary or realistic depiction of events.

The video capture of Dragon is far more like 2001, for example the two scenes where space pods are deployed. In both cases you can say the model shots lasted way too long, but that's Teancum's point: it's reality, or pretty close to it in the case of 2001, so naturally they are both "slow".

Re:Video of the capture (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608291)

What made parts of 2001 boring was the model shots, which lasted way too long. It wasn't the story, but how the story was told.

Yes, and the way it was told was integral to the story being told, and it was told in a perfect way. It was slow, it was deliberate, it was quiet and brooding, it was space travel. This was reflected in a lot more than just the model shots.

I won't tell you it wasn't boring. I don't find it boring at all, but I certainly can understand how you could.

But 2001 shot like Apollo 13 would not have been better. It would have been a much worse movie. Apollo 13 was done right for what it was, which is not what 2001 was. Kubrick made the right decision.

Re:Video of the capture (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609475)

There is a reason it looks like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

That movie was based upon reality due to the fact that the director, Stanley Kubrick, wanted to portray something realistic considering that there were real spacecraft going to real places (like the Moon) at the time he was making and released the film. Most other "science fiction" movies gloss over this reality in a horrible way. The only time you get something action packed is when something goes horribly wrong... and perhaps at launch when huge amounts of energy are being released.

Then again do you enjoy watching videos of your father parking his car in the driveway?

Like parking your car in your garage ... at eighty miles per hour.

Re:Video of the capture (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607375)

It's the last three minutes of a multi-day rocket maneuver ... life isn't like a Michael Bay movie (thankfully).

Re:Video of the capture (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41607133)

I watched the ISS pass (thank you n2yo.com!) yesterday evening and could see the Dragon not far behind it -- quite visible.

We need space exploration by any method possible (1)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606411)

While it's most convenient to have superpower governments concentrate wealth and use their military research to make space exploration possible, humanity's need for space exploration interprets a lack of funding as an obstacle and routes around it.

The real challenge now is finding a profit model. For the time being, space flight will be used to ferry celebrities into outer orbit, but in the future, our species will need to discover either outright profit or some way to subsidize the exploration of space itself.

I mean, it's great to think we could soon have flights to the moon, but what about more missions to Mars, and beyond?

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

medcalf (68293) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606541)

SpaceX's explicit goal is to get to Mars, and to do that, they're making it a paying proposition at almost every step of the way.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606549)

You do realise the dragon capsule is owned by private company? Nothing to do with government or military

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (3, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606921)

You do realise the dragon capsule is owned by private company? Nothing to do with government or military

You do realize that the development cost of the Dragon-9 launch vehicle and the cargo transport capsule was paid for by NASA? This is hardly "nothing to do with government."

(The small rocket (Falcon 1) was privately financed.)

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609405)

That's certainly true, but the government got it pretty much at firesale prices. They've got a bargain that hasn't been seen for quite a while.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

crakbone (860662) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609455)

The entire company, personnel, administration and construction facilities and every rocket launched to date including all failures for spacex is less than one nuclear submarine. And the company is pulling a profit. Where it gets its funds doesn't matter. What matters is that it is doing it as a company.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609629)

The statement "nothing to do with government" is incorrect.

If you want to go on and say "yes, but it was very inexpensive," that's a different topic.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (2)

Teancum (67324) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607049)

Elon Musk is making a big deal about the fact that the majority of his flight manifest for the future is for non-government commercial payloads. One of the reasons why the Orbcomm satellite was a big deal is in part that SpaceX needs to go through that backlog of payloads and get stuff into space.

That the satellite didn't get to where it was supposed to be at was a huge blow, but it is the kind of thing that SpaceX will be doing more of in the future.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (2)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609423)

Huge blow? It's a test satellite. It'll do fine in a lower orbit. Sure it won't last very long there (1 year or so I'd think), but it wasn't meant to last very long anyway. Sure it was meant to last longer, but they can do most of the intended tests at the present orbit, I'd think.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607095)

Nothing to do with government or military

So who wrote the cheque to pay for their delivery to the ISS? The Coca-Cola company?

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606611)

How about we try to achieve great things for the sake of humankind?
I know, not realistically going to happen any time soon. But plenty sci-fi author is able to think up societies where this is possible (e.g. star trek). Sure most had problems of their own, hence the stories, but I find it sad most just assume that nothing better than this capitalist system is possible.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (3)

Nutria (679911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606693)

But plenty sci-fi author is able to think up societies where this is possible

You seem to be confusing fiction with reality. (That's usually described as a mental illness.)

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606613)

The issue is energy. Energy (required to reach orbit) is too expensive. The next human revolution will be free (or remarkably cheap) energy. Tesla claimed to have devised a way to capture the energy from the ionosphere. Consider a single lightning strike has enough power to run a 100 watt bulb for 2 months. There's also some promise in the solar and wind energy areas. There's insane amounts of energy all around us. Capturing a fraction of it (cheaply) will change our lives in unimaginable ways and make things like space travel for the common man possible.

Energy cost [Re:We need space exploration] (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606971)

The issue is energy. Energy (required to reach orbit) is too expensive.

The actual energy cost of getting to orbit is quite low-- about 30 MJ/kg; that would cost well under a dollar a kilogram at today's electrical prices.

The problem is that exponential in the rocket equation (along with the fact that you can't pause halfway).

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (4, Informative)

beltsbear (2489652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606985)

A single lightning strike has about 5 billion joules of energy or enough to run an entire household for a month not just one bulb.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41607547)

As a household that just has 1 light bulb and nothing else electronic I think OP is correct.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41608467)

5 GJ is kind of the exceptionally large end, with 500 MJ being more average, which matches the figure the GP gives assuming one could actually extract all of that.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41608431)

While there are really high voltages and currents in a lightning strike that work out to a large amount of energy, much of that energy is dissipated along the whole length of the strike. If you intercept it with some sort of tower, you will only get a portion of it. If this were some sort of household thing and you were limited to a few tens of meters for the tower, you would be lucky to get some fraction of a percent of that energy, not even taking into account efficiency of storage within that regime. If there is a tree in your yard that gets hit by lightning about once a week, maybe you could get some use out of it... but I would be willing to bet the resources needed for that would get you a lot more energy if used for wind power instead.

Cheap power is already possible (1)

xtal (49134) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609433)

Nuclear technologies offer unlimited, high quality, stable power. Fission, and fusion. Base research into particle physics may provide additional breakthroughs in decades to come - antimatter, etc.

We just elect not to exploit them because oil is easy.. and thermodynamics and energy cycles are hard for the average person to understand.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609461)

Talk is cheap. Tesla could have claimed whatever the heck he wanted to, but it was a fantasy with no basis in fact. Demonstrably so.

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606641)

interprets a lack of funding as an obstacle and routes around it

That reminds me, is there a Slashdot drinking game? Or Slashdot Buzzword Bingo?

Re:We need space exploration by any method possibl (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607081)

The real challenge now is finding a profit model

There will never be a profit model for exploration - Or, if there is one, the profits will be so many generations into the future to make it not worthwhile calculating (mining unobtainium on asteroids or on Pandora 300 years from now). Will there be profit in space travel one day? Sure - But not exploration.

Profit model (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608161)

There will never be a profit model for exploration

Nonsense. You think the Americas were explored just because of curiosity? No, it was because people were exploring FOR something. Land, resources, minerals, etc. They didn't always know what they would find and they had to be flexible but they didn't go exploring just for the heck of it. Oil and mining companies explore for mineral wealth all the time. You can do exploration with a perfectly sensible profit model. The limitations to space exploration are economic and technological but not the lack of a potential profit model.

Re:Profit model (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608371)

The 'new world' isn't a valid comparison to space travel. The new world was able to be explored and exploited with a good ROI with techology available at that time. We have no means today to go 'explore' Alpha Centauri to see if there's anything there worth exploiting, and certainly no means to bring anything back - And no investor is going to fund such a thing because you won't see returns for 300 years. Will the free market take us to the moon? Probably, eventually, but not to deep space.

Re:Profit model (1)

theedgeofoblivious (2474916) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609073)

That's absurd.

Humanity will live on ships in space. Not just on planets. The ships will recycle to degrees you never thought possible: purifying waste, reusing vitamins and minerals and using photosynthesis or similar chemical reactions to get energy from the most widely available energy sources.

Landing on a rock is all well and good, but space travel should not be about how far you can go. It should be about understanding that movement little-by-little will happen. If we find a way to travel at the speeds needed to get to other planets then it might happen quickly, but if we can just get to the point where getting off the planet is commonplace, there are going to be reasons to go a little bit further and a little bit further and a little bit further. If we give up the notion that we must always end up on a rock, it will make it much easier for some of us to end up very far away.

Re:Profit model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41608709)

We have a pretty good idea what is out there in our near neighborhood though, and there is not much of value back on Earth. And even if we didn't know, it is hard to think of things that would be of enough value. Maybe if there was already pure bars of gold on the surface of the moon ready to be scooped up by a robotic return mission. But otherwise, anything requiring any processing and equipment, even with optimistic expectations of prices in the next several decades, is going to not make a profit compared to what is available on Earth. Maybe after several decades the availability of resources and prices will change, then there might be some motivation to get something (and once you start getting one thing, the infrastructure might help with making other become a little cheaper to get). But that is actually a rather dire view of the future in my opinion, that we wouldn't be able to find such things on Earth easier than the energy investment in needed to get it from space. I don't know if that is what the parent counts as an "economic" limitation, or would be a lack of a profit model...

Not to say I don't expect us to go there, just not for resources. At some point, if society doesn't collapse, tourism alone would get us there.

just a thought... (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606435)

I don't have time to read all the details, but I don't think we should be messing with any dragons.

I've read enough books to know it usually doesn't end well.

Re:just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606485)

The only dragon worth messing with is adorable spikey-wikey.

Re:just a thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41607523)

What about Puff The Magic Dragon?

Ahead of schedule capture (5, Funny)

jfholcomb (60309) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606483)

Anyone else think that the reason they got it done so fast was the little freezer full of ice cream on board?

Re:Ahead of schedule capture (2)

Dupple (1016592) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606533)

No, the captain was thawing out and they needed to calm down a bomb who had a god complex

Engine Lost on Falcon 9 (1)

lazarus (2879) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606695)

During the ascent the Falcon 9 lost an engine [discovermagazine.com]. Apparently a single engine fault is something that the Falcon 9 is designed for and can continue the mission on 8 engines.

Re:Engine Lost on Falcon 9 (2)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606927)

IIRC, it's the only rocket that can lose an engine or two and still complete it's primary mission. The last rocket that could do that was the Saturn V.

Yes but... (1, Informative)

gr8_phk (621180) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607113)

IIRC, it's the only rocket that can lose an engine or two and still complete it's primary mission. The last rocket that could do that was the Saturn V.

Great, but they've had 1 engine out in 2 launches. It's fantastic that they have demonstrated that redundancy but at this point in time it's a terrible demonstration of reliability. If we extrapolate a bit (and I'm not a great statistics guy) they should be expecting a dual engine failure about 1/4 of launches and a triple failure probably around 1/10 launches. I doubt they can cope with that.

Let's hope they find a cause (or strong suspect) and correct it, followed by a nice long string of successful launches. ;-)

Re:Yes but... (1)

Vulch (221502) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607395)

One engine failure in four Falcon 9 launches, not two. The vehicle has done a test flight with a dummy payload, launched a proper Dragon for a two orbit mission, and now launched two Dragons to the ISS.

Re:Yes but... (1)

dpilot (134227) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608103)

I thought I read that they had an engine failure in last May's launch, too.

Also, can the Falcon 9 fly one-engine-down from any point after launch? The GP mentions the Saturn V being able to run one-engine-down, but that was only after a certain point into the flight. They needed all 5 F-1s for at least the first minute or two.

The space shuttle could also run one-engine-down, after a certain point during the launch. I believe I also remember hearing them mark a two-engine-down point, where they could complete the mission on only one engine. (or at least some safe abort profile)

Re:Yes but... (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609515)

At this point in time it's nothing of the sort. You can't reliably predict from merely the success rate (engine OK vs. engine lost) of those two launches any sort of an expected failure rate, even if you narrow it down to certain failure modes. You're not only "not a great statistics guy", you never bothered to learn the basics. It's not hard, you just didn't try, that's all.

Re:Engine Lost on Falcon 9 (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607131)

a single engine fault is something that the Falcon 9 is designed for and can continue the mission

"Thirteen, we're not sure why the inboard cut out early, but the other engines are go, so we're just gonna burn those remaining engines for a little bit longer."

Automatic Docking? (1)

Spliffster (755587) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606705)

Is this spacecraft going to be docking automatically in the future? Something that the early soyuz (read ~1970) already did.

Best
-S

Re:Automatic Docking? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606805)

Soyuz was docking automatically with the ISS in 1970? You've answered your own question. Soyuz has been around a long time. The bugs have been worked out (for the most part). Dragon has been to the ISS twice and has been in operation for only a year or so. There's no reason to rush automatic docking and a huge reason to not rush it. You know, breaking the ISS and killing everyone inside if it goes wrong. ISS crashing to earth crushing a family of 20.

Re:Automatic Docking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606949)

Yes, once it will transport astronauts it will use automatic docking.

Re:Automatic Docking? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41607035)

They "could", but "won't" - one of the reasons (AFAIK) is that Docking and Berthing (Being pulled in by the Arm) on the ISS uses different ports, and the Berthing Port is much bigger to allow passage of Cargo trough - could be wrong in my memory though.

Choosing the Berthign method was a deliberate Decision on NASAs side, not a neccessety because Dragon couldn't.

Re:Automatic Docking? (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609159)

One thing that you will find is that Soyuz is incapable of sending up larger cargo. In particular, they can not send up a space rack. That is because the opening of their docking mechanism is quite a bit smaller than both NASA's docking AND berthing ports. Russia uses the APAS-89 which has .8M diameter. The Shuttle used APAS-95 docking which is bigger than APAS-89, but smaller than CBM.

Now, NASA has developed the NASA docking System, which is referred to as LIDS, and adopted by the international community (save china who was not offered it). [wikipedia.org] This will allow berthing AND docking via the same mechanism. Bigelow will use it, as well all of the human launchers. At that time, Dragon rider will switch to it, and my understand is that once adapters are brought up to the ISS, then Dragon, HTV, and possibly even ATV will switch to it.

And to be fair, Dragon already has the capability to do automated docking. That is what dragon eye was about. Simply add the adapter to ISS and change out the front of the dragon and you are good to go.

Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41606729)

1) This is the first 'official' supply mission. There was a test mission earlier this year.
2) It is the other ENGINGES that were commanded by the onboard computer to correct. There was only one rocket involved in all of this.
3) Spacex explicitly stated that there was no explosion. Opinions as to what really happened differ, but Spacex has never reported any sort of explosion - not even a tiny little one.
4) The Orbcomm satellite did get deployed, just not in the right orbit.

At least they got right that:
1) There was a launch.
2) Something went wrong.
3) The rocket (or whatever) corrected.
4) Dragon was placed into the right orbit.
5) Something went into the wrong orbit.

I know that most journalists are completely incompetent, but this is ridiculous.

Re:Sigh (2)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#41606947)

The OrbComm was the secondary payload. As such, it is at the whims of the primary payload.

So the engine failed, the rocket corrected to ensure the primary payload reached its orbit. Unfortunately the correction was such that the secondary payload could not reach its orbit.

Re:Sigh (2)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607251)

Apparently there's some talk that it might be possible to boost the OrbComm satellite to it's final orbit. The only bummer is how much that's going to shorten the life of the satellite.

Re:Sigh (2)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#41607337)

Certainly. OrbComm certainly has reason to be disappointed but they would have known before hand that their payload was secondary to the Dragon capsule. On the other hand, had this been any other rocket their payload would have likely been lost. They at least have the opportunity to get some data out of their payload.

Re:Sigh (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608971)

Certainly. OrbComm certainly has reason to be disappointed but they would have known before hand that their payload was secondary to the Dragon capsule.

I read on Reuters that OrbComm was still planning on launching 17 satellites on Falcon 9 rockets. On those launches, the satellite will be the primary payload. So they probably see the not-complete-failure of their test satellite launch as acceptable, and the complete-success-despite-engine-problems of the primary payload as a sign that they'll be fine for the rest of the launches.

Of course that's all partially dependent on the contract they have with SpaceX, but at the very least they don't feel strongly enough to try to get out of it.

Re:Sigh (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about a year and a half ago | (#41609421)

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if SpaceX has offered OrbComm another secondary payload berth for another satellite (if they get another test satellite) at cost rather than the regular rate.

Better Headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41607287)

ISS Grapples Space...Dragon with Robotic Arm

Satellite? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41607317)

So what happened to the satellite they left in the wrong orbit? If that can't be made right this launch is a big fail. Except for the ice cream of course.

Re:Satellite? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608879)

No, it would be a partial failure. In addition, this was a side load, not the main load. Since the real issue with this is that falcon was not allowed to burn the second stage longer (due to Russian rules on SpaceX). Had they been allowed to, then this likely would have made the orbit just fine.

I doubt that Orbcom is happy about, however, it appears that they are going to stay with SpaceX. My guess is that they will NOT want this launched again with an ISS load.

Questions (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year and a half ago | (#41608559)

At the point on the capsule to which the arm will attach, the three metal pieces, are they magnetic? If not, does the arm have "fingers" which latch on to those points? Doesn't the act of pressing against the capsule to capture it invoke Newton's Law of opposite and equal reactions?

Why only one robot arm? Wouldn't it be better to have two arms so you don't apply as much torque to the one arm and make it easier to guide the capsule in?

I'm presuming with the use of maneuvering jets they were able to get the capsule in position and in free drift. How confident are they it is stable relative to the position of the ISS for the capture attempt?

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