SpaceX plans November test flight to space station

Aug 16, 2011
A model of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket is shown to the media at the National Press Club in April 2011 in Washington, DC. California-based rocket maker SpaceX said that it will make a test flight in late November to the International Space Station, now that NASA has retired its space shuttle program.

California-based rocket maker SpaceX said that it will make a test flight in late November to the International Space Station, now that NASA has retired its space shuttle program.

" has been hard at work preparing for our next flight -- a mission designed to demonstrate that a privately-developed space transportation system can deliver cargo to and from the (ISS)," the company, also called Space Exploration Technologies, said in a statement.

The mission is the second to be carried out by SpaceX, one of a handful of firms competing to make a spaceship to replace the now-defunct US shuttle, which had been used to carry supplies and equipment to the orbiting outpost.

"NASA has given us a November 30, 2011 launch date, which should be followed nine days later by Dragon berthing at the ISS," the company said.

It said the arrival of the vessel at the space station would herald "the beginning of a new era in space travel."

"Together, government and the private sector can simultaneously increase the reliability, safety and frequency of space travel, while greatly reducing the costs," SpaceX said.

The company won $75 million in new seed money earlier this year, after it became the first to successfully send its own , the gumdrop-shaped Dragon, into orbit and back in December 2010.

The completed its final journey to the ISS and back last month, ending the 30-year-old US .

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BradynStanaway
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
Interesting..

It will be ground breaking to see a private firm launch a manned space vehicle. I wonder how far off this would be..
Techno1
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 16, 2011
The hilarious thing is, it seems they are going to pull this off for a fraction of the cost per pound as compared to NASA.

This just shows how much of the alleged "cost" of space flight is actually secretly going to black projects or crooked politicians and managers.
TheDoctor
5 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
If SpaceX is able to keep to schedule, dock the Dragon to the ISS. That acheivement could very well open the door to a crew version of the Dragon capsule well before 2014. Putting the U.S. back into human spaceflight.
baudrunner
5 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
NASA sowed the seeds by doing all of the R&D where space faring is concerned. They laid the groundwork. Furthermore, it is a government body, which naturally means over-employment and padded invoices from private sub-contractors.

That being said, my money is on SpaceX.
Waterdog
2.3 / 5 (4) Aug 16, 2011
I don't understand why we are still launching comestibles that are not G-force sensitive like water, air, food stuffs and some other items using rockets. It is not and never will be cost effective. There are several alternatives but probably the best and cheapest is to simply use a very large cannon and natural gas as the propellant. Put some manuveuring jets on the capsule and fire it into space. Simple, cheap and effective. The only reason this hasn't been used is political. Sadam Hussien was getting ready to build one almost this large to launch ballistic payloads anywhere in the world. Save the expensive rockets for people and other sensitive cargos.
LKD
4 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2011
Save the expensive rockets for people and other sensitive cargos.


Unless you are talking about mag-rail launchers, I can't even fathom how that would be physically possible.
Y8Q412VBZP21010
3 / 5 (4) Aug 16, 2011
This just shows how much of the alleged "cost" of space flight is actually secretly going to black projects or crooked politicians and managers.


It's all funneled into the Chemtrails program to disperse hallucinatory drugs into the skies.

No doubt of it. One sees the effect reflected in postings to PHYSORG.
Y8Q412VBZP21010
5 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
Furthermore, it is a government body, which naturally means over-employment and padded invoices from private sub-contractors.


Not to mention a lot of political oversight, high demands for paperwork, and a certain sort of counterproductive gold-plating: "failure is not an option" has an unfortunate tendency to collide with "perfect products take infinite time and money".
LKD
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
"failure is not an option" has an unfortunate tendency to collide with "perfect products take infinite time and money".


You mean coincide?
emsquared
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
I don't understand why we are still launching comestibles that are not G-force sensitive like water, air, food stuffs and some other items using rockets.

Without devoting much thought to it, I would say the technology needed for orbital insertion is too delicate to withstand such a violent journey...

i.e. it's not the economics that stand in the way. It's the technology.
UnlimitedRealms
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
LKD hit on an alternative to rockets . We have both mag-lev highspeed trains and "railgun" tech . In combination , a launch "tube" can be constructed to minimize g-forces to people & sensitive cargo in a launch vehical that can be"shot" into orbit with just manuvering thrusters .
It can be built long enough ,then up the side of a mountain at the proper angle for orbital insertion . Make it long enough to allow for only 2 to 3 g's to be experienced by the "cargo" to be launched
Y8Q412VBZP21010
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
You mean coincide?


I suppose you might make a case for it, but I would say no. Management that makes extraordinary demands usually tends to turn pale when they're handed the bill -- or, on the other hand, go into shock when they find out that failure is still an option when they don't really have the funds to rule it out. (See "space shuttle, development history of" for further illumination.)
emsquared
3 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
It can be built long enough ,then up the side of a mountain at the proper angle for orbital insertion.

I don't know how realistic plunking the projectile right into an ideal orbit is, I'm thinking you'd still need significant, relatively delicate mechanisms to maneuver the payload into a collectable orbit and keep it there, LEO orbital decay is quite fast. Then when you consider you are vastly increasing the distance the object must be propelled through the gravitational horizon and the amount of atmosphere it must travel through, I don't know that you're making any gains on viability by necessitating the fighting of physics for a longer time. Just means you're going to have to put exponentially more initial velocity into it which is the problem in the first place. And of course the larger the launch track and the more difficult construction and maintenance, the less economically viable it becomes too.

There are very good reasons why we're not slinging stuff into space yet.
Y8Q412VBZP21010
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
Space cannons are not a new idea:

http://www.vector...t_4.html

Bull might have actually put a smallsat into orbit in the early 1960s if HARP hadn't run out of money.
TrinityComplex
not rated yet Aug 16, 2011
I can understand why we're not using only ballistics to get things into space, but why aren't we assisting the launches? Similar to aircraft carriers, why can't we perform initial acceleration of the craft with some form of magnetic, hydraulic, or pneumatic catapult. It seems like a large amount of energy is wasted initiating the upward movement of the shuttle, just getting that huge load moving. I wonder how comparitively efficient it would be to use a slowly charged alternative for the initial push. You could still shape it like a ramp, to get it moving in the right direction and reduce the amount of maneuvering it would have to do once airborn. Ignite the boosters while it's moving along the track to ensure you're not slinging a dud into the air and have a braking mechanism if something goes wrong. Seems like you could significantly reduce the amount of fuel required, resulting in cheaper launches. Semi-ballistic, rather than ballistic.
Hengine
5 / 5 (2) Aug 16, 2011
Remember, LEO is 17,500mph.

You guys make things sound so easy.
poof
1 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2011
This is great, we should privatize all government functions.
UnlimitedRealms
not rated yet Aug 17, 2011
Remember, LEO is 17,500mph.

You guys make things sound so easy.

Nothing is ever easy , anything to be built is way more complex than one can write in a paragraph .
TC hit it when talking about semi ballistic . I mentioned manuvering thrusters , but there has been engineering research shooting laser beams into the tail end of a launch vehical creating bursts of energy from the atmosphere in the vehical nozzel , creating thrust . This would be a second stage device for launching vehicals into orbit . Way less fuel and more cargo to carry on the mission . Everything will be reusable
EmSq - I would rather maintain something and employ some personal to do it , than having to dump brand new tanks into the ocean every time we need to get into orbit . The tech is very simular to high speed trains and they are used and maintained without that much difficulty
Sanescience
5 / 5 (2) Aug 17, 2011
Cost effectiveness of a ground-to-orbit "cannon" is not what it is hyped to be, as the devil is in the details...

You can not LEO a dumb lump of something from the ground, as the trajectories possible from the ground are all elliptical leading back to impact the earth, with some wiggle room provided by initial atmospheric drag.

Resulting in something has to be built in orbit that can "catch", which would be a very expensive project.

To achieve reasonable accuracy to that target through the atmosphere, your projectile needs some level of "smart". Meaning some sensors, some kind of thrusters, and some circuitry. Those thrusters would probably also be needed to de-orbit the empty shell. That development would not be cheap.

The target for these objects must have a considerable thrust system of it's own, as it must "redirect" the projectile's elliptical orbit into a matching LEO orbit.

rwinners
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
We are back to using rockets and space capsules because more advanced and reusable options have proved cost ineffective.

The US government (read "us") paid for all the space development done by this country until pretty recently. How many scientists and engineers graduated through NASA and other government entities to find jobs with SpaceX and others?

Space X may indeed be able to do it cheaper.. but only with technology supplied by NASA.
LKD
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
Space X may indeed be able to do it cheaper.. but only with technology supplied by NASA.


As the quote goes:
"Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation."
baudrunner
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
I read on this page a suggestion that we need alternate means of getting into space. Now, I recall seeing an episode of Northern Exposure in which the radio jock Chris catapults a piano into the bay. Now, I'm thinking that a one-time massive investment in a similar device could conceivably send objects into space at virtually no cost. I think a feasibility study is in order.