The tiny little black dot in the lower left of this picture is the SpaceX Dragon capsule with its solar panel unfurled, performing a "fly-under" about a mile beneath the International Space Station. After Tuesday's flawless launch, Dragon is now maneuvering for berthing with the station on Friday.
After a dramatic last-second abort early Saturday, SpaceX enjoyed a picture-perfect launch Tuesday morning, with its Falcon 9 rocket delivering the company's Dragon capsule into orbit. NASA's chief called it "the brink of a new future," while SpaceX's founder remarked that "it was like winning the Super Bowl."
In what was a brutal reminder that NASA can (and should) delay a launch at any time if there's a perceived problem, SpaceX's highly anticipated liftoff was stopped short just before its Falcon 9 rocket should have been streaking toward the sky, and Dragon's historic rendezvous.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday morning, May 19 at 4:55 A.M. EDT. If all goes well, SpaceX's Dragon capsule will be one step closer to ferrying astronauts up to orbit and opening the door for manned private spaceflight missions in the future. Update inside.
An exact date has bounced around for the last couple of weeks, and NASA is finally giving SpaceX the go for a rendezvous between the company's Dragon capsule and the International Space Station. It's a landmark launch for SpaceX, and one that's poised to make history for the next generation of manned spacefaring efforts.
SpaceX is busy gearing up for a date with the International Space Station, but the company now has a second invite to one that doesn't exist yet. SpaceX has announced that it will help fellow private spaceflight firm Bigelow carry its inflatable modules into orbit, with the goal of connecting a bunch to form a proper station.
Within the next five years or so, you'll be able to buy a ticket to suborbital space for about $200,000. And that'll be fun, we're looking forward to it. SpaceX, a major player in the suborbital industry, is thinking about where else the company will be able to take people within the next few decades, and founder Elon Musk says Mars is a real possibility. And it'll be damn cheap.
Private spaceflight has been inching along for the last several years, but next month may be a major stepping stone for the industry: SpaceX's Dragon capsule is scheduled to launch on April 30 on an unmanned cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station, offering NASA (and anyone else) a significantly cheaper way to get to orbit.
If you plan to make a space capsule that can land softly on Earth without using a parachute, you're going to need some pretty reliable rocket engines. So the privately funded SpaceX has just tested their brand spanking new SuperDraco engine, designed just for this task.
Well, this is no good: testing has revealed cracks in the Soyuz landing capsule that Russia was supposed to launch to the ISS, rendering it decidedly un-spaceworthy. The launch date has been rescheduled until April or May, meaning that SpaceX's Dragon capsule might be the next arrival at the ISS.