Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Space Travel News .




LAUNCH PAD
US cargo vessel prepares to leave space station
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 30, 2012


mission director John Couluris in a briefing with reporters on the eve of the spacecraft's return after a seven-day mission to the orbiting outpost.

"We have done it once," he said, referring to the Dragon's test flight in December 2010 when the capsule entered and returned safely from orbit for the first time.

"But it is still a very challenging phase of flight," he added. "We are not taking this lightly at all."

The ISS crew is to wake up at 0400 GMT Thursday, unhook the capsule from space station power sources and complete final preparations, according to Holly Ridings, NASA flight director.

After that, a short series of maneuvers will set the stage for Dragon's departure.

The station's robotic arm, which grabbed the capsule on its approach May 22, and helped bring the cargo vessel in closer for station berthing, has already been re-grappled to the Dragon, she said.

"You do the unberth from the space station and then you move the arm out to a release position," she said.

The detachment from the space station is set for 0805 GMT, with the release by the robotic arm following about an hour and a half later.

Then, the Dragon engines will fire -- first two small burns and then one big burn -- as its heads away from the space station.

The capsule is supposed to make an ocean landing 490 nautical miles (907 kilometers) southwest of Los Angeles, where three vessels are standing by as recovery boats.

It will then be transported to Texas so that the cargo it is bringing back can be returned to NASA, though the US space agency cautioned that if anything goes wrong, there is nothing crucial on board.

"There is not anything coming home that we couldn't afford to not get back," said Ridings.

Couluris added that regardless of what happens to the capsule on Thursday, the mission has been "a major success" for both NASA and SpaceX.

The cargo ship launched on May 22 carrying 521 kilograms (1,148 pounds) of gear for the space lab, including food, supplies, computers, utilities and science experiments. It plans to return a 660-kilogram load to Earth.

On May 25, the Dragon became the first privately owned spacecraft to berth with the ISS, an event that NASA and White House officials hailed as the start of a new era in spaceflight in which commercial enterprise will take on a larger role.

The United States retired its space shuttle fleet last year, leaving cargo missions up to the space agencies of Russia, Japan and Europe.

Only Russia can return its cargo capsules intact. The other supply ships burn up on reentry to Earth's atmosphere.

Until private US ventures come up with a vehicle that can replace the shuttle and carry humans to the $100 billion orbiting lab, the world's astronauts must rely on Russia's Soyuz capsules at $63 million a ticket.

US astronaut Don Pettit, who is part of the six-member crew at the ISS and helped unload and restock the capsule, described the Dragon as "roomier than a Soyuz" and said it boasts about as much space for cargo as his pickup truck.

The white Dragon capsule stands 4.4 meters (14.4 feet) high and is 3.66 meters in diameter, and could carry as much as 3,310 kilograms split between pressurized cargo in the capsule and unpressurized cargo in the trunk.

It was also built to carry up to seven humans to the ISS. The Soyuz carries three at a time.

California-based SpaceX, owned by billionaire Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, says it aims to begin taking people to the space station by 2015.

Using some of their own money and some funds from NASA, SpaceX and its competitor Orbital Sciences Corporation will likely become the chief cargo servicers of the space station, which is set to remain operational until 2020, NASA has said.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to supply the station in coming years, and Orbital Sciences has a $1.9 billion contract to do the same. Orbital's first test flight is scheduled for later this year.

.


Related Links
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





LAUNCH PAD
Intelsat Signs First Commercial Falcon Heavy Launch Agreement with SpaceX
Hawthorne, CA (SPX) May 30, 2012
Today, Intelsat, the world's leading provider of satellite services, and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the world's fastest growing space launch company, announced the first commercial contract for the Falcon Heavy rocket. "SpaceX is very proud to have the confidence of Intelsat, a leader in the satellite communication services industry," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designe ... read more


LAUNCH PAD
US cargo vessel prepares to leave space station

Once Upon a Time

BC Company Becomes First Official Producer and Distributor of Replica SpaceX Spacecraft

Intelsat Signs First Commercial Falcon Heavy Launch Agreement with SpaceX

LAUNCH PAD
Waking Up with the Sun's Rays

NASA Funded Research Shows Existence of Reduced Carbon on Mars

Did Ancient Mars Have a Runaway Greenhouse?

Opportunity Drives to Dusty Patch of Soil

LAUNCH PAD
NASA Lunar Spacecraft Complete Prime Mission Ahead of Schedule

NASA Offers Guidelines To Protect Historic Sites On The Moon

Neil Armstrong gives rare interview - to accountant

Perigee "Super Moon" On May 5-6

LAUNCH PAD
Beyond Pluto And Exploring the Kuiper Belt

Uranus auroras glimpsed from Earth

Herschel images extrasolar analogue of the Kuiper Belt

New Horizons on Approach: 22 AU Down, Just 10 to Go

LAUNCH PAD
Newfound exoplanet may turn to dust

Cosmic dust rings no guarantee of planets

In search of new 'Earths' beyond our Solar System

Free-floating planets in the Milky Way outnumber stars by factors of thousands

LAUNCH PAD
J-2X Engine Continues to Set Standards

Liquid Oxygen Piston Pump Ready for Reusable Space Flight

Pictures show N. Korea rocket launch upgrade

Internet entrepreneur hits paydirt in space, autos

LAUNCH PAD
China launches telecommunication satellite

Tiangong 1 Ready To Meet Shenzhou 9

Sri Lanka plans to launch its first satellite in 2015

When Will Shenzhou 9 Be Launched

LAUNCH PAD
OSIRIS-REx Scientists Measure Yarkovsky Effect

NASA Scientist Figures Way to Weigh Space Rock

Asteroid Nudged by Sunlight: Most Precise Measurement of Yarkovsky Effect

NASA Scientist Figures Way to Weigh Space Rock




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement