Soyuz TMA-12M Launch

The Soyuz TMA-12M rocket launches from Baikonur
The Soyuz TMA-12M rocket launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 (local time) carrying Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos to the International Space Station.
Image Credit:
NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA Partner Sierra Nevada Completes Preliminary Design Review Of Dream Chaser Vehicle To Transport Astronauts

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems has successfully completed a preliminary design review (PDR) of the design, architecture and performance of its Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle. This marks a new milestone in the company’s effort to develop transportation for astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.SNC is one of several companies working to develop commercial crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The goal is to help spur innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from the commercial industry to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective capabilities to transport astronauts to low Earth orbit and the space station. The Dream Chaser is designed to carry as many as seven astronauts to space. It is the only spacecraft under CCDev2 that uses wings and is designed to land on a conventional runway.”As CCP’s partners meet these critical milestones, we are moving in the right direction in our combined effort to advance commercial capabilities that could eventually transport NASA astronauts,” NASA CCP Program Manager Ed Mango said.

 
 
 
 
NASA_Commercial_Crew_Pin
 
 
 

The Sea Dragon, Dragon Splashes Down

Dragon space vehicle splashdown

This is the first picture from the Pacific Ocean showing the SpaceX Dragon following its splashdown at 11:42 a.m. (EDT) west of Baja California, Mexico. It was released earlier in the day from the Earth-orbiting International Space Station following a precedent-setting stay at the orbital outpost. The Dragon spent 5 days, 16 hours and 5 minutes berthed to the station. The mission began May 22 as the capsule launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Following a series of tests of its maneuverability and abort systems, the capsule was grappled and berthed to the space station by the crew members of Expedition 31. Photo credit: Michael Altenhofen/SpaceX

SpaceX's Dragon capsule sits on a barge after being retrieved from the Pacific Ocean after splashdown.

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule sits on a barge after being retrieved from the Pacific Ocean after splashdown.

Dragon splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 11:42 a.m. EDT a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico, marking a successful end to the first mission by a commercial company to resupply the International Space Station.

Image Credit: Image Courtesy of SpaceX

 

SpaceX Makes History

Dragon Becomes First Commercial Spacecraft to Attach to the Space Station

Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) made history when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial vehicle in history to successfully attach to the International Space Station.  Previously only four governments – the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency – had achieved this challenging technical feat.

The vehicle was grappled by the station’s robotic arm at 9:56 a.m. Eastern.  Dragon’s passive common berthing mechanism successfully attached to the orbiting laboratory at 12:02 p.m Eastern.

Mission control at the moment of grapple

 

Dragon at station

Dragon heads to berth (attach) to the station

Dragon is berthed to station!

When asked for his initial thoughts on Dragon’s capture and move into the history books, Elon Musk stated, “just awesome.”

Broadcast quality videos, including video inside of the SpaceX factory, may be downloaded at vimeo.com/spacexlaunch.  For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv. High-resolution photos are posted at spacexlaunch.zenfolio.com.

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk will join NASA Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini, NASA COTS Program Manager Alan Lindenmoyer and NASA Flight Director Holly Ridings  for a press conference to discuss the remarkable achievement at 1:00 PM Eastern.

This is SpaceX’s second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed; by their very nature, they carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.

Mission Highlights:

  • May 22/Launch Day: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched the Dragon spacecraft into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
  • May 23: Dragon orbited Earth as it traveled toward the International Space Station.
  • May 24: Dragon’s sensors and flight systems were subjected to a series of complicated tests to determine if the vehicle was ready to berth with the space station; these tests included maneuvers and systems checks in which the vehicle came within 1.5 miles of the station. 
  • May 25: NASA gave Dragon the GO to attempt berthing with the station.  Dragon approached. It was captured by station’s robotic arm and attached to the station.

Coming up next:

  • May 25 – 31: Astronauts open Dragon’s hatch, unload supplies and fill Dragon with return cargo.
  • May 31: Dragon is detached from the station and returns to Earth, landing in the Pacific, hundreds of miles west of Southern California.

Dragon on board


 

Dragon  
 
Dragon
 
 

25 May 2012
 
The first Dragon commercial space ferry was berthed at the International Space Station today. ESA astronaut André Kuipers and his crewmates welcomed the new cargo ship and will start unloading the supplies and scientific experiments tomorrow.
 
Dragon gave a thorough demonstration of its manoeuvring capabilities before being allowed to approach the Space Station. At a distance of 250 m, ground control gave the go-ahead to approach the Station’s safety zone.

Dragon cautiously approached for 2.5 hours and then stopped 10 m out. From there, André and NASA astronaut Don Pettit took over and captured the vessel using the Station’s robotic arm.

Unlike ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle or Russian Soyuz and Progress ferries, Dragon is not designed to dock automatically with the Station. It relies on astronauts using the long arm to grab the spacecraft and move it safely into position for temporary berthing to one of the Station ports.

 
 

Dragon
   
Robotic arm workstation
 

André watched Dragon approach from Europe’s Cupola observatory module and acted as an extra pair of eyes as Don operated the robotic arm. Once safely captured, André took over the controls to move the vessel to the Harmony module next to ESA’s Columbus laboratory.

Dragon will be detached from the orbital outpost and return to Earth next Wednesday, landing close to the Californian coast.

As part of its cargo, Dragon will return samples from ESA experiments that are examining metal alloys and the human immune system.

SpaceX to Webcast Dragon’s Visit Space Station

SpaceX to Webcast Dragon’s Visit Space Station

SpaceX is planning to webcast Dragon’s historic attempt to visit the space station live tomorrow morning starting at approximately 4:30 AM PT / 7:30 AM ET. Times may change so check back for updates. 

Mooi begin van de dag. Succesvolle lancering van Falcon gevolgd aan boord van ISS. Dragon onderweg.

Astronauts aboard the space station watching the Falcon 9/Dragon launch!  Credit: ESA/NASA

SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace Join Forces to Offer Crewed Missions to Private Space Stations

Hawthorne, CA, and Las Vegas, NV– Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Bigelow Aerospace (BA) have agreed to conduct a joint marketing effort focused on international customers. The two companies will offer rides on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, using the Falcon launch vehicle to carry passengers to Bigelow habitats orbiting the Earth.

According to Bigelow Aerospace’s President and Founder, Robert T. Bigelow, “We’re very excited to be working with our colleagues at SpaceX to present the unique services that our two companies can offer to international clientele. We’re eager to join them overseas to discuss the substantial benefits that BA 330 leasing can offer in combination with SpaceX transportation capabilities”.

The BA 330 is a habitat that will provide roughly 330 cubic meters of usable volume and can support a crew of up to six. Bigelow Aerospace plans to connect two or more BA 330s in orbit to provide national space agencies, companies, and universities with unparalleled access to the microgravity environment.

“SpaceX and BA have a lot in common. Both companies were founded to help create a new era in space enterprise,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. “Together we will provide unique opportunities to entities — whether nations or corporations — wishing to have crewed access to the space environment for extended periods. I’m looking forward to working with Bigelow Aerospace and engaging with international customers,” Shotwell explained.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will be capable of carrying seven passengers to orbit. With the company’s Falcon family of rockets, SpaceX is working to create the world’s safest human spaceflight system.

The companies will kick off their marketing effort in Asia. Representatives from Bigelow and SpaceX will meet with officials in Japan shortly after the next launch of the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX and NASA Prepare for Launch

SpaceX and NASA Prepare for Launch

In a processing facility at Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Space Exploration Technologies technicians attach the Dragon capsule to the second stage of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. Known as SpaceX, the launch will be the company’s second demonstration test flight for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, or COTS. During the flight, the capsule will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station. If the capsule performs as planned, the NanoRacks-CubeLabs Module-9 experiments and other cargo aboard Dragon will be transferred to the station. The cargo includes food, water and provisions for the station’s Expedition crews, such as clothing, batteries and computer equipment. Under COTS, NASA has partnered with two private companies to provide resupply missions to the station. The launch is TBD. For more information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/spacex. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

NASA Announces Launch Date and Milestones for Spacex Flight

WASHINGTON — NASA has announced the launch target for Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7, 2012, pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and verification. NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) in a single flight.”SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory.”

Gerstenmaier said, “There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure safety and mission success.”

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the rendezvous with the station. The primary objectives for the flight include a fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately two miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous, if required.

Dragon will perform the final approach to the ISS while the station crew grapples the vehicle with the station’s robotic arm. The capsule will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. At the end of the mission, the crew will reverse the process, detaching Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California. If the rendezvous and attachment to the station are not successful, SpaceX will complete a third demonstration flight in order to achieve these objectives as originally planned.

“SpaceX is on the forefront of demonstrating how a partnership between the government and private industry can lead to new capabilities and provide a large return on investment,” said Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager for COTS at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a historic milestone in the future of spaceflight,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. “We appreciate NASA’s continued support and their partnership in this process.”

Begun in 2006, NASA’s COTS program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. In a multiphase strategy, the program is spurring the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from commercial industry, creating a new system of delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Through Space Act Agreements, SpaceX will receive up to $396 million and Orbital Sciences Corporation, NASA’s other COTS partner, will receive up to $288 million for the successful completion of all milestones in the agreements. To date, SpaceX has received $376 million for completing 36 out of 40 milestones and Orbital has received $261.5 million for completing 23 out of 29 milestones.

For more information on COTS, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/cots

For more information on the International Space Station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

For more information on SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit:

http://www.spacex.com

 

NASA Announces Launch Date and Milestones for Spacex Flight

WASHINGTON — NASA has announced the launch target for Space Exploration Technologies’ (SpaceX) second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration flight will be Feb. 7, 2012. Pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and verification, NASA also has agreed to allow SpaceX to send its Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS) in a single flight.

“SpaceX has made incredible progress over the last several months preparing Dragon for its mission to the space station,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “We look forward to a successful mission, which will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory.”

Gerstenmaier said, “There is still a significant amount of critical work to be completed before launch, but the teams have a sound plan to complete it and are prepared for unexpected challenges. As with all launches, we will adjust the launch date as needed to gain sufficient understanding of test and analysis results to ensure safety and mission success.”

During the flight, Dragon will conduct a series of check-out procedures that will test and prove its systems in advance of the rendezvous with the station. The primary objectives for the flight include a fly-by of the space station at a distance of approximately two miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach. The spacecraft also will demonstrate the capability to abort the rendezvous, if required.

Dragon will perform the final approach to the ISS while the station crew grapples the vehicle with the station’s robotic arm. The capsule will be berthed to the Earth-facing side of the Harmony node. At the end of the mission, the crew will reverse the process, detaching Dragon from the station for its return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California. If the rendezvous and attachment to the station are not successful, SpaceX will complete a third demonstration flight in order to achieve these objectives as originally planned.

“SpaceX is on the forefront of demonstrating how a partnership between the government and private industry can lead to new capabilities and provide a large return on investment,” said Alan Lindenmoyer, program manager for COTS at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“SpaceX is excited to be the first commercial company in history to berth with the International Space Station. This mission will mark a historic milestone in the future of spaceflight,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. “We appreciate NASA’s continued support and their partnership in this process.”

Begun in 2006, NASA’s COTS program is investing financial and technical resources to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation capabilities. In a multiphase strategy, the program is spurring the innovation and development of new spacecraft and launch vehicles from commercial industry, creating a new system of delivering cargo to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Through Space Act Agreements, SpaceX will receive up to $396 million and Orbital Sciences Corporation, NASA’s other COTS partner, will receive up to $288 million for the successful completion of all milestones in the agreements. To date, SpaceX has received $376 million for completing 36 out of 40 milestones and Orbital has received $261.5 million for completing 23 out of 29 milestones.

For more information on COTS, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/cots

For more information on the International Space Station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

For more information on SpaceX or the Dragon spacecraft, visit:

http://www.spacex.com