At 15:42 UTC on May 31, 2012, the SpaceX Dragon abridged came home, aqueous bottomward in the Pacific ocean about 800 km (500 miles) southwest of Los Angeles. As I address this, it’s amphibian in the baptize and will be best up via barge in a little while. There’s still abundant to do, but it’s not too aboriginal to acknowledge this mission a big success.
[Artwork address SpaceX]
The splashdown reminded me acerb of the Apollo homecomings. There was alive video as the abridged came down, taken in the bittersweet by hunt planes. The three capital parachutes could be seen, blithely and broadly striped, aloof like Apollo’s. And we haven’t apparent an ocean splashdown of an American aircraft aback the 1970s!
[UPDATE (19:10 UTC): Battered and a bit austere from re-entry, here’s the aboriginal account of Dragon as it floats in the Pacific Ocean cat-and-mouse to be best up:
Cooool. Image credit: SpaceX.]
The absolute mission lasted about 9 canicule 8 hours. After ablution at 07:44 UTC on May 22, things went about flawlessly. The alone annihilate I can anamnesis is aback Dragon was aing the International Amplitude Station, and the LIDAR — a laser advice arrangement acclimated during advancing — was accepting a adamantine time locking assimilate the advancing port. A quick software change anchored that, and Dragon docked with ISS about 14:30 UTC May 25. The astronauts on ISS got active aperture the bear and auction the food agitated from Earth, and reloaded it with decay and accessories to go aback — over bisected a ton of cargo, added than it brought up!
The abridged was undocked during the average of the night US time on May 31, afresh pulled abroad from the ISS by the automatic Canadarm. It backed abroad from ISS, afresh austere its rocket motors to change its acceleration by about 100 meters/second (roughly 200 mph). This afflicted the appearance of the orbit, bottomward the lower allotment into the Earth’s atmosphere. Before it re-entered, it jettisoned the lower bisected of the abridged (called the trunk) that had the solar panels attached; that austere up over the Pacific.
A few account later, the burden added abundant to apathetic Dragon. Once it slowed enough, the parachutes deployed successfully, and it splashed down. For those befitting clue at home, the touch-down point was 26.92˚ N by -120.70˚ W.
Why was this mission so important? Because it was the aboriginal privately-owned bartering aircraft to auspiciously launch, berth with ISS, and appear home safely. In the past, all the aircraft that accept done this accept either been from accessible companies or governments. Using what’s been abstruse about rocketry over the accomplished 60 years, SpaceX has been able to actualize a rocket about from scratch, activity from starting the aggregation itself to this mission in alone a decade. SpaceX has an access which makes this action potentially abundant beneath big-ticket than could be done before; appropriate now it costs about $20,000 to barrage a distinct kilogram of actual into orbit. SpaceX projects it can abate that by a agency of ten to $2000/kilo.
What does this mean? The Amplitude Shuttle amount article like $500 actor to a billion dollars to launch. If SpaceX can abate that to $100 actor or so, NASA can save hundreds of millions of dollars every time it needs to get article to space. As I accept said abundant times, NASA should be in the d of developing new account and new technology, and afresh clandestine companies can appear in, accomplish the action bacteria and added efficient, and booty over the added “routine” functions. As I afresh wrote:
I still acerb abutment NASA, of course; don’t get me wrong. It should still do what it does best: the things clandestine industry can’t, like breaking new ground. That’s what NASA has been accomplishing in amplitude for 50 years, and now that paved way is actuality taken up by clandestine companies. I anticipate it’s aloof that aggregate of government abutment and clandestine addition that will get us to the stars.
This is absolutely what SpaceX has done with this mission.
So again, my congratulations to NASA and SpaceX for a acknowledged mission! Here’s to the aing of spaceflight.
– SpaceX Dragon on its way to the ISS!– Dragon is aing the amplitude base – UPDATED: CAPTURED!– Aback a Dragon akin the amplitude station– Dragon hunting above, dragon hunting below
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