Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Dragons are Go!
Another page in space history was turned today. In the first private ISS mission, Falcon 9 rocket, with an unmanned Dragon resupply capsule for the International Spacre Station roared perfectly off its pad at Kennedy Space Center.
Oddly, at this writing, http://www.spacex.com/ doesn't have an update yet. Guess everyone is still waiting for the adrenalin to come down a bit.
Mission timeline from here:
Day 1/Launch Day: SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches a Dragon spacecraft into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
- Day 2: Dragon orbits Earth as it travels toward the International Space Station.
- Day 3: Dragon's sensors and flight systems are subject to a series of complicated tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station; these tests include maneuvers and systems checks that see the vehicle come within 1.5 miles of the station.
- Day 4: NASA decides if Dragon is allowed to attempt to berth with the station. If so, Dragon approaches; it is captured by station's robotic arm and attached to the station. This requires extreme precision even as both Dragon and station orbit the earth every 90 minutes.
- Day 5 - TBD: Astronauts open Dragon's hatch, unload supplies and fill Dragon with return cargo.
Nine days or so later, station will be inthe best location to give Dragon an accurate return trajectory, and off it will go - home to Earth.