Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SpaceX's Falcon 9 headed for ISS

The Falcon 9 launching from Cape Canaveral (courtesy SpaceX).

On Tuesday, May 22, at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  This third flight of the independently designed and operated rocket system carries along with it the Dragon capsule for its second flight.  While the first two launches of the Falcon 9 and the previous launch with the Dragon were for test purposes, this flight has a different mission.  It is to be the first commercial resupply of the International Space Station (ISS).

Based out of Hawthorne, California, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, won a $278 million contract with NASA to develop their Falcon rocket systems for eventual resupply mission to ISS.  Since the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle program, the space station has not had a single American spacecraft dock and all resupply missions have been carried out by other ISS member nations.  Currently SpaceX has a contract with NASA that runs until 2015 and includes 12 resupply visits to ISS. 

This launch is actually the second attempt for the Falcon 9 to deliver the Dragon to ISS.  The first attempt, on May 19, was canceled when an on-board computer detected an error with one of the engine's check valves.  After repairs were made to the Merlin 1C engine, the launch was rescheduled for the early morning of May 22, making for the first night launch of the Falcon 9.

The Dragon capsule (PDF) is set to deliver its payload to ISS on May 25.  While the CRS version of the Dragon that was launched is unmanned, other capsules are being built that will be capable of carrying up to nine individuals.  The CRS Dragon is composed of two storage sections.  The main pressurized section which can carry 7,300 lbs (2,210 kg) and a unpressurized section known as the trunk which can carry 7,300 lbs (3,310 kg).  The Dragon was named after the 1963 song by Peter, Paul and Mary "Puff, the Magic Dragon".

Computer Model of the Dragon approaching ISS (courtesy NASA).

The Falcon 9, named after the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, is a two stage, medium-lift rocket system.  It utilizes nine of SpaceX's Merlin 1C rockets to power the first stage and a tenth Merlin engine that has been modified for use in a vacuum.  The Falcon 9 is capable of carrying 23,00 lbs (10,450 kg) to low Earth orbit and 9,800 lbs (4,450 kg) to a geostationary transfer orbit (this carries payloads through a specific trajectory to safely insert it into a geostationary orbit).

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Gothic

I am the poet of the dark
cropping in cold gardens
dead flowers
with pale hands

Am I being dark
who watches the night
with the look of a vampire
trying to find beauty
that lurks in every shadow

My eyes painted black
see what they can not
be seen
by mortal eyes

I am the night mist
ear of
the cathedrals

I wander in the dark skies
where the eyes of
the magical twilight

in the dark
see the light
few still
and on earth where beings
gently with plan
my wings
dark angel

My loneliness
devours the hours
waiting for the day is done
to fall on me
cover of night
where daydream
without arousing

My verses written
with blood
runs like a warm rain
in abandoned buildings
where I leave the lament of a world

Disease left by beings
that destroy the world
with their impious rage
Who are the strangers?
Or are you crazy?

Leave me alone with my sorrow
because the left is crying
After all, someone needs to cry
it's me
being of darkness

Let me light my fire
in the land of the dead souls
I lie down on the tombstones cold and pies
left by beings
of old

Let me sing
dark bowels
Close to me
the world is sick
maybe there is more healing
someone needs to cry
then it's me
being the dark night

Sandro Kretus