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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:SpaceX Dragon CRS-2 flight to the space station
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The nine-engine test took place at the company's Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as part of a full launch dress rehearsal leading up to SpaceX CRS-2, the second official cargo resupply mission under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract.

During the static fire test today, SpaceX engineers ran through all countdown processes as though it were launch day. All nine engines fired at full power for two seconds, while the Falcon 9 was held down to the pad.

SpaceX will now conduct a thorough review of all data and continue preparations for Friday's targeted launch.

The first launch opportunity for CRS-2 is currently scheduled for 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT) on Friday, March 1.

Photo credit: SpaceX
Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
SpaceX launches Dragon on 2nd space station resupply mission

A commercial cargo spacecraft was launched Friday (March 1) on a NASA-contracted flight to resupply the International Space Station (ISS), but an issue with the capsule's maneuvering thrusters has called the flight's success into question.

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) launched their Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Dragon cargo capsule at 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT) on Friday (March 1) from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch, according to the company, proceeded as planned and the Dragon was placed into its intended orbit.

Soon after separating from the rocket however, the Dragon experienced a problem with a pressurization line that prevented three of the capsule's four thruster pods from operating. The Dragon is outfitted with a total of 18 jets — two pods with four and two with five — that are used to adjust the capsule's attitude and approach to the station.

"We noticed after separation that only one of the four thruster pods engaged or was ready to engage," Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO, told reporters during a post-launch telecon. "And then we saw the oxidizer pressure in two of the four tanks was low. And so we spent several hours trying to fix the problem and we think we have. If that's the case, it is certainly going to be a huge relief and we'll be really glad... and hopefully be able to deliver the cargo that we intended to deliver."

Robert Pearlman
Dragon rendezvous with station set for Sunday

International Space Station Program and SpaceX managers Saturday (March 2) gave the go-ahead for the SpaceX's Dragon cargo vehicle to rendezvous with the station on Sunday (March 3).

The station's Mission Management Team unanimously agreed that Dragon's propulsion system is operating normally along with its other systems and ready to support the rendezvous two days after Friday's launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Dragon is scheduled to be captured Sunday at 6:31 a.m. CST (1231 GMT) by NASA Expedition 34 commander Kevin Ford and NASA flight engineer Tom Marshburn. Once grappled, Dragon will be installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module by ground experts at mission control in Houston. The cargo vehicle will be bolted into place through commands by flight engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency.

The operation of time-critical scientific experiments being delivered to the station on Dragon will be reviewed during the course of berthed operations to ensure that all planned investigations are completed. Despite the one-day delay in Dragon’s arrival at the station, its unberthing, release and splashdown remain planned for Monday, March 25.

SpaceX officials reported to the multinational management team that all of Dragon's systems are operating as planned in the wake of the temporary loss of three of four banks of thrusters after Dragon separated from the Falcon 9 rocket Friday. The time required to recover normal operation of all 18 Draco thrusters and verify their readiness caused the one-day delay.

SpaceX said it has high confidence there will be no repeat of the thruster problem during rendezvous, including its capability to perform an abort, should that be required.

NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple on Sunday will begin at 2:30 a.m. CST (0830 GMT) time. Coverage of berthing operations on NASA TV will begin at 7:00 a.m. (1300 GMT).

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
SpaceX Dragon reaches space station on second NASA resupply run

A commercial cargo spacecraft pulled up alongside the International Space Station early Sunday (March 3), making a day-late delivery of crew supplies and science experiments for the orbiting laboratory.

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon capsule arrived within a robotic-arm's reach of the station at 4:22 a.m. CST (1022 GMT). Expedition 34 commander Kevin Ford working with flight engineer Thomas Marshburn, both NASA astronauts, then used the outpost's arm to capture the capsule for its attachment to an Earth-facing port on the station's Harmony module.

"Congratulations to the SpaceX and the Dragon team in Houston and in California," radioed Ford after grappling the Dragon at 4:31 a.m. CST (1031 GMT) as the vehicles flew 253 miles (407 km) over the northern Ukraine. "They say it is not where you start but where you finish that counts and you guys really finished this one on the mark."

"You're aboard and we have got lots of science on there to bring aboard and get done," Ford said. "So congratulations to all of you."

Robert Pearlman
Hatches opened into Dragon

The hatch between the newly arrived SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and the Harmony module of the International Space Station was opened at 12:14 p.m. CST (1814 GMT).

Dragon delivered about 1,268 pounds (575 kilograms) of supplies to support continuing space station research experiments and will return with about 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms) of science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations, and education activities.

Robert Pearlman
Dragon return to Earth scheduled for Tuesday

More than three weeks after arriving at the International Space Station, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft is ready for the trip back to Earth, now scheduled for Tuesday (March 26).

The Dragon's return date, originally scheduled for March 25, was postponed due to inclement weather developing near its targeted splashdown site in the Pacific Ocean. The additional day spent attached to the orbiting laboratory will not affect science samples scheduled to return aboard the spacecraft.

The removal of Dragon from the space station begins at 3:05 a.m. CDT (0805 GMT), with release scheduled for 6:06 a.m. CDT (1106 GMT). Dragon will conduct a series of engine burns to take it away from the space station with the third and final departure burn taking place around 7:16 a.m. CDT (1216 GMT).

Dragon's deorbit burn will take place approximately 10:40 a.m. CDT (1540 GMT) with splashdown scheduled for 11:36 a.m. (1636 GMT) about 246 miles off the coast of Baja, California.

Dragon will take about 30 hours to return to port, at which point several critical science samples will be handed over to NASA for a return trip back to Houston that day.

Robert Pearlman
Dragon separates from space station

SpaceX's CRS-2 Dragon cargo spacecraft was released from the end of the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm at 5:56 a.m. CDT (1056 GMT) on Tuesday (March 26).

"Sad to see the Dragon go," radioed Expedition 35 flight engineer Tom Marshburn. "Performed her job beautifully, heading back to her lair. Wish her all the best for the splashdown today."

Ground controllers earlier commanded the Canadarm2 to unberth Dragon from the Harmony node at 3:10 a.m. CDT (0810 GMT).

Dragon will fire its engines for the last time at 10:42 a.m. CDT (1542 GMT), sending it through the Earth’s atmosphere for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at around 11:34 a.m. CDT (1634 GMT). A team of SpaceX engineers, technicians and divers will recover the vehicle off the coast of Baja, California, for the journey back to shore, which will take about 30 hours.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
SpaceX Dragon spacecraft returns critical NASA science to Earth

A Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft successfully completed the company's second cargo flight to the International Space Station on Tuesday, March 26, with an 11:36 a.m. CDT (1636 GMT) splashdown in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico.

"The scientific research delivered and being returned by Dragon enables advances in every aspect of NASA's diverse space station science portfolio, including human research, biology and physical sciences," said Julie Robinson, International Space Station Program scientist. "There are more than 200 active investigations underway aboard our orbiting laboratory in space. The scientific community has eagerly awaited the return of today's Dragon to see what new insights the returned samples and investigations it carries will unveil."

Science being conducted aboard the space station includes research on physical and biological processes that cannot be done anywhere else, applied research to improve lives on Earth, and exploration research to help humans move safely beyond Earth orbit.

A boat will take the Dragon capsule 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 freezer packed with research samples collected in the space station's unique microgravity environment. The remainder of the cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule.

Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return a significant amount of cargo to Earth. The spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 1, carrying about 1,268 pounds (575 kilograms) of supplies and investigations. It returned about 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms) of science samples, equipment and education activities.

Investigations included among the returned cargo could aid in food production during future long-duration space missions and enhance crop production on Earth. Others could help in the development of more efficient solar cells, detergents and semiconductor-based electronics.

Among the returned investigations was the Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures (CSLM-3) experiment, which also launched to space aboard this Dragon. CLSM-3 studies how crystals known as dendrites form as a metal alloy becomes solid. The research could help engineers develop stronger materials for use in automobile, aircraft and spacecraft parts.

Dragon also is returning several human research samples that will help scientists continue to examine how the human body reacts to long-term spaceflight. The results will have implications for future space exploration and direct benefits here on Earth.

The mission was the second of at least 12 cargo resupply trips SpaceX plans to make to the space station through 2016 under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services contract.

Robert PearlmanNASA video release

See here for discussion of SpaceX's second Dragon CRS flight to the ISS.

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