Wednesday, December 08, 2010

SpaceX Orbits A Dragon

Did it today. Two orbits and return, no one on board; but it's the first time a privately-built spacecraft has done that, managed the whole mission profle you'd need to go Gagarin without having to bum the ride from a Gummint. Story here (may be a bit pop-uppy) and at SpaceX.

Who's flown to orbit and back? Five nations, one group of nations (ESA) and...SpaceX. Run by the same guy who owned PayPal back when they were kewl. He's setting up to haul freight to orbit now and he hopes to sell you a seat someday, too. FedEx, Greyhound, Delta? Move over. New player. New game.

And SpaceX is just the frontrunner. There's an easy half-dozen more coming up behind 'em.

15 comments:

Jim said...

I do hope they get this pinned down tight before they start flying passengers; the last thing this upstart industry needs is a Hindenburg to turn statistics-impaired people off the idea.

Hell of a job they did, but so far they've done it once. I can't wait to see where they go from here.

Jim

Standard Mischief said...

It's good to see private industry - with the government pretty much keeping out of the way I hope - seems well able to keep up with the Chinese and the Indians.

It's hard to believe that it's been 40+ years since the first moon landing.

Roberta X said...

There otta be a dang Hilton on the Moon right now. It pains me that there is not.

Jim, SpaceX pranged several suborbitals in the early going. One of their design imperatives is they only build one engine type. Control systems, etc. are likewise as standardized and interchangeable as possible. Eldon Musk is out to build trucks rather than race cars.

Mike S said...

With any luck, private space trips will become possible before the TSA requires us to fly naked.

Tam said...

Mike S.

You can't stop the signal. ;)

bluesun said...

Cool! And I just got back from working at an aerospace startup this afternoon. Maybe someday I can work on a starship...

Keads said...

Oh and the obligatory "Good news everyone!"

Ian Argent said...

Did they remember to put the stamps on board this time?

Standard Mischief said...

It's not as sweet as I thought. They're shooting from a NASA launchpad and NASA is the main customer. Still, it's a private space company.

"After today's mind-blowingly successful maiden voyage, SpaceX's brand-new Dragon spaceship could conceivably be sent all they way to the International Space Station on its next trip, the program's NASA manager told reporters."

emphasis mine, from http://tinyurl.com/33hhw3w

Jim said...

Roberta, I'm glad to hear they've got the launcher reasonably sorted, but I hope they have justifiable confidence in zee capsyoooool too.

Jim

Sendarius said...

I see this COTS stuff from NASA as the only way that they can put the risk back into space-flight.

It's dangerous stuff, but the bureaucrats insist that it be made as safe as crossing the road. When the road is closed to traffic.

By spending money hiring "private companies" *wink* *wink*, NASA can by-pass the .gov safety nazis somewhat - I only wish that they had done this YEARS ago.

That Hilton on the moon would have been a lot closer to opening day if they had.

Roberta X said...

Yes, it's a NASA-contract launch; SpaceX's two biggest customers are NASA and the .mil; now, class,who can name #3?

...Anyone...?

Bigelow Aerospace, orbital slumlords DeLuxe! They are hoping to rent you a cold-water flat in Earth orbit by decade's end. They have already orbited a couple of structures.

Back to SpaceX: because they fly one type engine and one size capsule for both cargo and passengers, every launch provides useful data. The same hardware that runs groceries to ISS under COTS would carry techs to a Bigelow station. Where NASA has some pressure to do New Stuff every time, every vehicle a fresh design almost from the ground up, SpaceX is concentrating on perfecting hardware.

Ian Argent said...

All hail the mighty widget maker! In the long run, that's going to be important.

Don't forget, the first commercial flights were done to haul the mail for USPS, back when the US in that meant Uncle Sam wrote all the checks.

Crucis said...

Glad to see this. I'm still rootin' for Burt Rutan. When he makes some orbits and returns, NASA will truly be outa business.

Joseph said...

Who knows, Roberta....you may wind up working on a starship for REAL!!

Now that would be kewl.