SpaceX pushes for mission to space station on next flight

July 27, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson
A concept drawing of the Dragon spacecraft approaching the ISS. Credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX have “technically” agreed to allow the Dragon capsule to dock with the International Space Station this fall, according to SpaceX’s Twitter feed. The Dragon capsule is currently – and tentatively — scheduled to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on November 30, and berth with the ISS 9 days later. Originally, the Dragon was scheduled to just rendezvous and station-keep with the space station on this second flight for Dragon and then dock on a subsequent flight. But after the successful test flight for the first Dragon capsule in Dec. 2010, SpaceX asked NASA to combine the two missions.

“We technically have agreed with SpaceX that we want to combine those flights,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, speaking at the post-launch press conference for the STS-135 final shuttle mission. “We are doing all the planning to go ahead and have those missions combined, but we haven’t given them formal approval yet.

With today’s Twitter post from SpaceX, it appears things are moving in the direction of making the move official.

SpaceX’s flights are part of NASA’s COTS (Commercial Orbital Transfer Service) program, and by allowing SpaceX to dock with the ISS sooner rather than later would combine COTS II and III flights.

Will Dragon be doing any official cargo transfer? A experiment called Materials International Experiments (MISSE) #8 has a reservation with to fly back to Earth on a Dragon capsule.
MISSE is a brief-case sized experiment that tests all sorts of materials like polymers and other composites and coatings, along with hardware such as switches, sensors and mirrors, exposing them to the vacuum of space. The experiment is attached to the outside of the ISS and opened to expose the materials.

To dock with the ISS, the Dragon capsule would need to be equipped with solar arrays and other equipment on board the spacecraft would need to be upgraded from the configuration Dragon had for the Dec. 2010 test flight.

Explore further: SpaceX Plans Reusable Seven Person Capsule

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Bobamus_Prime
5 / 5 (8) Jul 27, 2011
Good to hear this. I didn't like the idea of the U.S. having to use the Soyuz to dock. I'm excited SpaceX is pushing to close the gap after the shuttle fleet completed its service. Hopefully Russia doesn't try to monopolize their space ferrying tech like I remember reading they were trying to do a few months ago.
LKD
4 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2011
Russia and China have both learned the value of monopolies, and unlike us, have no problem what so ever encouraging their formation. I'm thrilled SpaceX is being allowed to press for greater access to space missions.
TheDoctor
4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 27, 2011
SpaceX Rocks!! Lets go for it. Keep those millions of dollars in this country and create a few few jobs in the process.
Waterdog
2 / 5 (8) Jul 27, 2011
I'm excited for SpaceX. Hopefully soon we will be able to tell the Russians to take their Soyuz and stick it.
that_guy
5 / 5 (3) Jul 27, 2011
Congradulations to spaceX. I remember the falcon 1 rocket that failed on its first three tries. I never thought that SpaceX would make it so far. Apparently they have a great business/management/developement/engineering culture because they have launched success after success since then - They have really turned around their company.
FrankHerbert
3.3 / 5 (16) Jul 27, 2011
Hopefully soon we will be able to tell the Russians to take their Soyuz and stick it.


Why? The Soyuz is the most reliable vehicle in the history of spaceflight.
DiverseByDesign
5 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2011
This is really great news! For NASA to show faith in a commercial space program within the states is great. They needed to do something like this to show that they still have confidence in the fact that the private industry can pick up where NASA left off!
Temple
not rated yet Jul 28, 2011
Congradulations to spaceX. I remember the falcon 1 rocket that failed on its first three tries. I never thought that SpaceX would make it so far. Apparently they have a great business/management/developement/engineering culture because they have launched success after success since then - They have really turned around their company.


I don't see that as a turn-around. I see that as SOP for spaceflight innovation.

Without exception so far, building a process to launch payloads into space requires that you blow up a number of rockets in the early stages.

Failed tests are not failures.
Sanescience
5 / 5 (4) Jul 28, 2011
Congradulations to spaceX. I remember the falcon 1 rocket that failed on its first three tries. I never thought that SpaceX would make it so far. Apparently they have a great business/management/developement/engineering culture because they have launched success after success since then - They have really turned around their company.

I'm guessing you don't follow such things. SpaceX was building prototypes. And in terms of past programs, SpaceX has far exceeded their rate of progress, and was never in a position that needed "turning around".
Osiris1
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 28, 2011
Notice as soon as the shuttle program shut down, Russia raised its prices for Soyuz rides. This is their right! They SHOULD do this to remind us how hugely foolish we are!.....and stooooopid!
LKD
not rated yet Jul 28, 2011
Notice as soon as the shuttle program shut down, Russia raised its prices for Soyuz rides.


How much is it now? Did it go up from the 55ish?
http://www.foxnew...soaring/
Buyck
not rated yet Jul 31, 2011
Good for the commercial space industry !!! Hopefully the developments lead to lower prices and competition between firms and also faster technical evolutions!

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