SpaceX capsule has 'new car' smell, astronauts say (Update)

May 26, 2012 by Kerry Sheridan

SpaceX's Dragon cargo vessel smells like a new car, said astronauts at the International Space Station after opening the hatches Saturday following the spacecraft's landmark mission to the orbiting lab.

The California-based SpaceX on Friday became the first commercial outfit to send its own unmanned cargo capsule to the ISS, heralding the start of a new era for private spaceflight after the end of the 30-year US shuttle program.

The Dragon capsule delivered about a half ton of supplies and science experiments for the ISS, and aims to return a slightly larger load of gear to Earth on May 31.

Shortly after the hatches between the ISS's Harmony node and the Dragon spacecraft were opened at 5:53 am EDT (0953 GMT), astronauts ventured in for the first time.

"Like the smell of a brand new car," remarked US astronaut Don Pettit, who on Friday was the one who reached out with the station's robotic arm and snared the Dragon as it approached the research outpost.

"Dragon's interior looked good," SpaceX said in a statement.

"The ship is in good shape," said a NASA commentator on the US space agency's television channel.

Now that the doors between the two spacecraft are open, the crew has begun four days of work to unload and restock the world's first commercial resupply vessel with gear to return to Earth.

The Dragon has toted 521 kilograms (1,148 pounds) of cargo for the space lab, including food, supplies, computers, utilities and science experiments. It plans to return a 660-kilogram load to Earth.

"I spent quite a bit of time poking around in here this morning, just looking at the engineering and the layout, and I am very pleased. It looks like it carries about as much cargo as I could put in my pickup truck," Pettit told reporters later in the day.

"It's roomier than a Soyuz," he added, referring to Russia's spaceships that can carry both humans and cargo.

The white Dragon capsule stands 4.4 meters (14.4 feet) high and is 3.66 meters in diameter.

Dragon can carry over 3,310 kilograms split between pressurized cargo in the capsule and unpressurized cargo in the trunk.

"We have already had all six people in here for a real brief period of time," said Pettit.

"There is not enough room in here to hold a barn dance but for transportation of crew up and down through Earth's atmosphere and into space, which is a rather short period of time, there is plenty of room in here for the envisioned crews."

SpaceX's Dragon was built to carry up to seven humans to the ISS. The Soyuz carries three at a time.

The US space shuttle program ended in 2011, leaving only Russia capable of carrying astronauts and cargo to the ISS and back to Earth.

The space agencies of Japan and Europe have supply ships that can ferry cargo to the ISS but cannot return to Earth intact, and those missions are set to end in the coming years.

That means SpaceX and its competitor Orbital Sciences Corporation would likely become the chief cargo servicers of the $100 billion space station, which is set to remain operational until 2020, NASA said.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to supply the station over the coming years, and Orbital Sciences has a $1.9 billion contract to do the same. Orbital's first test flight is scheduled for later this year.

SpaceX and a handful of other companies are also competing to replace the crew capability that the United States lost when the shuttle program ended.

SpaceX, owned by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, says it aims to begin taking people to the space station by 2015.

In the meantime, the world's astronauts must rely on Russia's Soyuz craft for ISS transport at a cost of $63 million per seat.

Explore further: Asteroid named for University of Utah makes public debut

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Egleton
not rated yet May 27, 2012
It is by such a thin thread that the future of Humanity hangs.
Terriva
5 / 5 (1) May 27, 2012
The future of Humanity doesn't depend on the space flights, but on the reliable energy source, which these space-flights can be powered. IMO the bottleneck is in ignorance of cold fusion findings by now. The wider implementation of cold fusion would allow us to make an infrastructure for really effective flights into space, not just jumps above orbit.

Paradoxically, there is lotta solar energy at the Moon, but for creation of effective Lunar base we are required to transport large amount of another materials and technologies to the Moon and the existing energetic and financial crisis prohibits us in development of required technologies and wide-scale transport. We should simply advance at the Earth before we will colonize the outer space. The terraformation of Sahara or Antarctica is way more simpler and cheaper, than the terraformation of the Moon. It has no meaning to attempt in terraformation of another planets, if we cannot keep the Earth more sustainable place for life.
Temple
not rated yet May 27, 2012
"The future of Humanity doesn't depend on the space flights, but on the reliable energy source"

You really need to read this article:

http://en.wikiped...ct_event

Unchecked climate change *might* get most of us (if we continue with our heads in the sand), but we are guaranteed a number of extinction level impact events sometime within the next twenty years to two hundred thousand years, with more coming with relative regularity.

Protecting one's planet from significant impact events is absolutely necessary for the survival of the species. Without that ability, our days are numbered. It may be a few dozen millennia, but it may only be a few dozen years.

If that's not a good enough reason for space travel, there's always the the notion that in 500m years, the gradually increasing solar output will be such that Earth's oceans will have all boiled away.

Mars or bust.
Terriva
not rated yet May 27, 2012
Protecting one's planet from significant impact events
You see, without cold fusion we could do nothing against it.

Next big deal in space-time launches (from NASA this time)...
Siddha
not rated yet May 30, 2012
I've been salivating over the Model S for a long time. Bet that smells like a new car too. lol
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (2) May 31, 2012
You can get that 'new car smell' in a can...

@Terriva,
There are several ways to deflect deal with asteroids and comets but you first need to know where they are and their trajectory, heisenberg would be proud :-)

I dont hold out hope for 'cold' fusion in the short term not least of which is the technology basis, the political/commercial and nuclear consequences have barely been touched on. I would give it another 10 years before something definitive might arise...
rynox
not rated yet Jun 01, 2012
Or do new cars have that "new spaceship smell"?
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (2) Jun 01, 2012
"new spaceship smell"
OO yeah, nice idea :-)

mmm, could be done I guess, few drops of hydrazine and some perchlorate but not enough to 'go anywhere' ;-)

Next best thing I guess is hydrogen peroxide and a minimal sniff of ammonia...
dschlink
not rated yet Jun 01, 2012
It will be most interesting when they send one up with the "used" spaceship smell.
Terriva
not rated yet Jun 01, 2012
I would give it another 10 years before something definitive might arise...
With the existing dismissive approach of mainstream physics community it could take even longer... Fortunately the technological development is less and less dependent on the actual stance of these parasites, who act like the enemies of human civilization.
Mike_Massen
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2012
@Terriva
Please get a grip, Science is about evidence, definitive and subject to peer review - where is that ?

Or are you proposing a 'religion' of cold fusion ?

Religion is about faith with zero discipline, ie. Emotional attachment or rather Emotional Hypnosis..!

Science is "The disciplined acquisition of knowledge" and according to a protocol...

Where is your practical implementation of this protocol please Terriva, articulate it in clear definitive practical terms ?

Until then Terriva, you are welcome to slumber in the dream state,

Cheers