News / USA

Dragon to Venture to Space Station

Suzanne Presto


 

Dragon to Venture to Space Stationi
X
May 19, 2012 3:56 AM
It's a historic mission that has been years in the making. VOA's Suzanne Presto reports that SpaceX, a private company that has received more than $380 million in funding from NASA, is gearing up to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station.


It's a historic mission that has been years in the making. SpaceX, a private company that has received more than $380 million in funding from NASA, is gearing up to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station.

On Friday afternoon, weather officials said conditions were favorable for the pre-dawn launch Saturday from Cape Canaveral in Florida.


Gwynne Shotwell is the president of SpaceX, which developed and owns the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule. Speaking alongside NASA officials at a news briefing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Friday afternoon, she said the SpaceX team is in awe of the opportunity before them.


"You know, I think we're going to be biting off our fingers between now and hour 75," Shotwell said, referring to the nerves SpaceX employees would be coping with during the the first three days of the milestone mission.


"Launch is obviously key. You've got to get Dragon successfully to orbit, so that's a pretty nerve-wracking timeframe," continued Shotwell. "This is actually a difficult mission from the perspective of the launch window. We have a near-instantaneous launch window, so if by 4:55 am [Eastern] and a couple of seconds, we haven't lifted off, we will have to scrub."


That is because the space capsule is trying to meet up with a moving target. The International Space Station is zooming around the Earth every 90 minutes. Shotwell explained that if the rocket does not launch at exactly the right time, there would be massive propellant requirements in order to catch up to the space station.


If the company is successful, it will join the United States, Russia, Europe and Japan as the only entities that have sent a spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station.


Shotwell says the company's nearly 1,900 employees probably will not be getting much sleep between the launch and the Dragon's docking. That is set for the third day of the mission, if all goes smoothly.


The unmanned Dragon spacecraft will carry 544 kilograms of cargo, including commemorative patches, clothing, meals and student experiments. Nothing is considered critical to the space station's crew.


Phil McAlister, the acting director of NASA's commercial spaceflight development program, praised the partnership between the government agency and the California-based company. He said opening up space to non-government entities is necessary for the future of exploration.


"Once we get private enterprise and economic interests out to low-Earth orbit, there will be no turning back," said McAlister.


NASA and SpaceX officials alike emphasize that this is a test flight, so they are viewing it as a learning opportunity.


SpaceX says it hopes to carry people into space within three years.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid