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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:SpaceX Dragon CRS-1 flight to the space station
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During this test, SpaceX engineers ran through all countdown processes as if it were launch day. All nine engines fired at full power for two seconds while the rocket was held down to the pad.

This is the last major all systems test in preparation for Falcon 9 and Dragon's next mission to the space station, targeted for October 7.

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
Ice cream for ISS: Frozen dessert flying on space station-bound SpaceX Dragon

Ice cream is blasting off for the crew of the International Space Station (ISS).

The frozen confectionery — not the freeze-dried souvenir version sold in museum gift shops — is packed on board the first NASA contracted commercial mission to resupply the orbiting laboratory.

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
SpaceX Dragon launches on first resupply mission to space station for NASA

A cargo-packed, uncrewed spacecraft launched on Sunday night (Oct. 7) from Florida on the first NASA-contracted resupply flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, launched its second-station bound Dragon capsule atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket at 8:35 p.m. EDT (0035 GMT Oct. 8) from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Robert PearlmanSpaceX release
SpaceX CRS-1 Mission Update: October 8, 2012

The Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station this morning and is performing nominally following the launch of the SpaceX CRS-1 official cargo resupply mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:35 p.m. ET Sunday, October 7, 2012.

Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night's launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket's nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued immediately. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9's other eight engines were impacted by this event.

As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon's entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS. This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission.

Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do. Like the Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission.

We will continue to review all flight data in order to understand the cause of the anomaly, and will devote the resources necessary to identify the problem and apply those lessons to future flights. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Dragon is expected to begin its approach to the station on October 10, where it will be grappled and berthed by Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA. Over the following weeks, the crew will unload Dragon's payload and reload it with cargo to be returned to Earth. Splashdown is targeted for October 28.

Robert PearlmanSpaceX release
SpaceX CRS-1 Mission Update: October 9, 2012

The Dragon spacecraft continues to look great and all systems are performing nominally. Dragon spent yesterday executing a series of burns and is currently catching up to the International Space Station.

The spacecraft is expected to begin its approach to the space station on October 10, where it will be grappled and berthed by Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA. We are currently on target for the astronauts to perform the arm grab between roughly 7-7:30AM ET / 4-4:30AM PT; however, this time is variable based upon the GO/NOGO and Hold times from the flight director and status of the vehicle.
Robert PearlmanSpaceX release
SpaceX CRS-1 Mission Update: October 9, 2012

Dragon has continued today on track and is scheduled to begin its final approach to the International Space Station in the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Before capture, Dragon is required to pass a series of go/no-go points determined by Mission Control in Houston and the SpaceX team in Hawthorne. It will also establish its close-range guidance systems, comprised of LIDAR and thermal imagers.

If all goes according to plan, grapple is currently targeted for 7:17 a.m. EDT/4:17 a.m. PDT; however, all times are variable and can change.

Key Times (all times variable):
  • 5:13 a.m. EDT/2:13 a.m. PDT - 250 meter hold (go/no-go)
  • 6:25 a.m. EDT/3:25 a.m. PDT - 30 meter hold (go/no-go)
  • 6:57 a.m. EDT/3:57 a.m. PDT - 10 meter hold (go/no-go for capture)
  • 7:17 a.m. EDT/4:17 a.m. PDT – Capture/grapple
Robert PearlmanSpaceX release
SpaceX CRS-1 Mission Update: October 10, 2012

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has been successfully captured at the International Space Station.

At approximately 6:56 a.m. EDT / 3:56 a.m. PDT, Expedition 33 crew member Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency used the station's robotic arm to grapple Dragon.

Expedition 33 commander Suni Williams of NASA remarked, "Looks like we've tamed the Dragon. We're happy she’s on board with us."

Approximately 2.5 hours from grapple (exact time variable), Williams will gently install Dragon to Harmony's Common Berthing Mechanism, enabling it to be bolted in place for its expected two and a half week stay at the International Space Station.
Robert PearlmanNASA video release
SpaceX Commercial Cargo Craft Arrives at International Space Station

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 33 Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and station Commander Sunita Williams of NASA used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft October 10 2012, signaling the arrival of the vehicle at the orbital laboratory for the first U.S. commercial resupply service for the complex.

Within hours after grappling the Dragon following its two-day transit following launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Williams and Hoshide installed the SpaceX craft to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module.

Dragon is scheduled to remain berthed to the space station until its departure Oct. 28 for its deorbit and parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.

Robert PearlmanNASA update
Station crew opens Dragon hatch

Running well ahead of schedule, Expedition 33 commander Suni Williams and flight engineer Aki Hoshide opened the hatch to the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft at 12:40 p.m. CDT (1740 GMT) Wednesday, marking a milestone for the first commercial resupply mission to reach the International Space Station.

Hatch opening had been scheduled to occur on Thursday, but the crew sped through its post-berthing procedures, enabling the earlier entrance into the cargo ship.

Robert Pearlman
Dragon set to return to Earth

SpaceX's Dragon, the world's first commercial cargo craft to visit the International Space Station, was unberthed and released from the Harmony node Sunday morning (Oct. 28).

Dragon is returning to Earth with 1,673 pounds (759 kilograms) of science experiment results, crew equipment and spent hardware.

ISS Expedition 33 commander Suni Williams and flight engineer Aki Hoshide monitored the Dragon spacecraft as ground controllers used the station's robotic arm Canadarm2 to grapple the cargo craft. After its release, Dragon will begin a series of thruster firings to carry it away from the space station, closes its GNC door, and begins its deorbit burn.

Ready to reenter the atmosphere, Dragon jettisons its trunk and solar arrays, positions itself so that its PICA-X heat shield faces the Earth, and proceeds into the Earth's atmosphere.

When Dragon reaches 45,000 feet (13,700 meters) above sea level, it will deploy two drogue parachutes to slow its descent. At 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), it will deploy its three main parachutes and drift slowly toward the splashdown site. Splashdown is expected to take place at approximately 2:20 p.m. CDT (1920 GMT).

After Dragon is secured, the SpaceX team will then place the vehicle on the deck of a 100-foot boat for the journey back to shore. Early-arrival cargo will be delivered to NASA within 48 hours of landing. Dragon will then travel from Southern California to SpaceX's facility in McGregor, Texas, where the remaining cargo will be unloaded and processed for delivery to NASA.

Dragon Operations Schedule for Sunday, Oct. 28

  • 6:55 a.m. CDT (1155 GMT) - Dragon unberth
    Actual time: 6:19 a.m. CDT (1119 GMT)

  • 8:26 a.m. CDT (1326 GMT) - Dragon release
    Actual time: 8:29 a.m. CDT (1329 GMT)

  • 1:28 p.m. CDT (1828 GMT) - Deorbit burn

  • 2:20 p.m. CDT (1920 GMT) - Splashdown
    Actual time: 2:22 p.m. CDT (1922 GMT)
Robert Pearlman
Dragon separates from station

SpaceX's Dragon was released from the space station's robotic arm on Sunday (Oct. 28) at 8:29 a.m. CDT (1329 GMT), heading for a splashdown at 2:20 p.m (1920 GMT).

Robert Pearlman
SpaceX Dragon splashes down safely

SpaceX's Dragon cargo craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday (Oct. 28) at 2:22 p.m. CDT (1922 GMT) about 250 miles off the coast of Baja Calif., marking a successful conclusion to the first contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Photo credit: SpaceX

"With a big splash in the Pacific Ocean today, we are reminded American ingenuity is alive and well and keeping our great nation at the cutting edge of innovation and technology development," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "Congratulations to SpaceX and the NASA team that supported them and made this historic mission possible."

The Dragon capsule will be taken by boat to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX's test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours. This includes a GLACIER freezer packed with research samples collected in the orbiting laboratory's unique microgravity environment. These samples will help advance multiple scientific disciplines on Earth and provide critical data on the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. The remainder of the cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule.

The ability to return frozen samples is a first for this flight and will be tremendously beneficial to the space station's research community. Not since the space shuttle have NASA and its international partners been able to return considerable amounts of research and samples for analysis.

Returning with the Dragon was 1,673 pounds of cargo, including 163 pounds of crew supplies, 866 pounds of scientific research, and 518 pounds of hardware.

Photo credit: SpaceX

"This historic mission signifies the restoration of America's ability to deliver and return critical space station cargo," said SpaceX CEO and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Elon Musk. "The reliability of SpaceX's technology and the strength of our partnership with NASA provide a strong foundation for future missions and achievements to come."

The mission was the first of at least 12 cargo resupply missions to the station planned by SpaceX through 2016 under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.

See here for discussion of SpaceX's first Dragon CRS flight to the space station.

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