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Enter the Dragon: Astronauts open up first private cargo craft

Image: Inside the Dragon

NASA TV via SpaceX

An overhead camera view shows one of the International Space Station’s astronauts checking out the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft after Saturday’s hatch opening.
By Marcia Dunn

Space station astronauts floated into the Dragon on Saturday, a day after its heralded arrival as the world’s first commercial supply ship.

NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, the first one inside the docked capsule, said the Dragon looks as if it carries about as much cargo as his pickup truck back home in Houston. It has the smell of a brand new car, he added.

“I spent quite a bit of time poking around in here this morning, just looking at the engineering and the layout, and I’m very pleased,” Pettit said from the brilliant white compartment.

To protect against possible debris, Pettit wore goggles, a mask and a caver’s light as he slid open the hatch of the newest addition to the International Space Station. The complex sailed 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Tasman Sea, just west of New Zealand, as he and his crewmates made their grand entrance. The atmosphere was clean; no dirt or other particles were floating around.  Read More

Space X Rocket Launched Into Orbit

The “Falcon 9” rocket by Space X is ignited.  (photo courtesy of Space X)

The Space X rocket is on its way to the International Space Station on the first commercial run into space.

The rocket, known as Falcon 9, is an unmanned spacecraft that is carrying cargo to the International Space Station. The rocket was launched Tuesday morning and Brian Murphy with the Holcomb Observatory at Butler University says this is a historic moment for space travel. “The thing that makes this amazing is that it’s now a private company that’s doing this. It’s no longer a government doing this. In fact, NASA leased this out to Space X. The great thing about this is this is the future of our space program at least for low-earth orbit.”  Read More

SpaceX replaces faulty rocket valve for space station flight

Image: SpaceX NASA launch aborted

Erik S. Lesser  /  EPA

The engines are seen firing moments before the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft launch was aborted.
By Clara Moskowitz

SpaceX engineers have replaced a faulty engine valve on a private rocket carrying the first commercial space capsule bound for the International Space Station following the last-second abort during an attempted liftoff Saturday.

The valve replacement came after SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which will loft the firm’s unmanned Dragon capsule toward the station, aborted its launch attempt a half-second before liftoff from a pad here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Technicians investigating the glitch discovered a faulty check valve was to blame for the high engine pressure that forced the booster’s engines to unexpectedly shut down.

SpaceX engineers replaced the balky valve late Saturday, and are now inspecting the Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for a possible second launch attempt early Tuesday.

“We will continue to review data on Sunday,” company officials said in a statement Saturday evening. “If things look good, we will be ready to attempt to launch on Tuesday, May 22nd at 3:44 AM Eastern.”

Dragon is set to become the first non-governmental spaceship to rendezvous and berth at the space station during a mission sponsored by NASA’s COTS program (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) aimed at procuring commercial U.S. vehicles capable of filling the gap left by the retired space shuttles.  Read More

SpaceX no stranger to launch day rocket glitches

When a privately built rocket aborted its launch attempt at the very last second on Saturday, it was likely a familiar sight to the booster’s builders: The California-based company SpaceX.

SpaceX’s unmanned Falcon 9 rocket aborted its launch attempt this morning just as the countdown reached T minus 0.5 seconds and the rocket’s nine main engines ignited, apparently due to an unexpectedly high engine pressure reading. The rocket will now have to wait until at least Tuesday to attempt to launch SpaceX’s first robotic Dragon space capsule flight to the International Space Station.

The launch abort, while a delay, isn’t a surprising turn of events for SpaceX. The company repeatedly pushed back the launch in recent months to allow extra time to review the rocket and Dragon capsule’s flight software. The goal, SpaceX and NASA officials said at the time, was to make sure the rocket was as ready to fly as possible.  Read More

Commercial Company Visits International Space Station

On Saturday, May 19th, SpaceX will become the first commercial company in history to attempt to visit the International Space Station. Watch the action live on beginning at 1:15 AM Pacific / 4:15 AM Eastern / 08:15 UTC.

For more information on the upcoming demonstration mission, check out the info in our press kit.

For those on Twitter, be sure to follow @elonmusk this week. He will be tweeting live from mission control during launch.  Read More

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