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SpaceX’s Success Gets the Attention of Foreign Space Officials

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 on the pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX)

SpaceX's Falcon 9 on the pad at Cape Canaveral. (Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX)

SpaceX’s success in launching two Falcon 9 rockets and recovering a Dragon capsule from orbit last year has captured the attention of foreign space officials, who are eager for the services the company can provide and believe that valuable lessons can be learned from how the California-based start-up operates. Simonetta di Pippo, ESA’s director of human spaceflight, said:

“SpaceX certainly got our attention. This is a kind of revolution. We now know they can make it, and so we have to concentrate, on the government side, on new developments. We cannot just stick with our ATV now that the commercial sector is able to do this. Having visited the SpaceX facilities, I am not surprised by their success. But we need to react to it.”

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Space Review Looks at Dragon Flight, Human Asteroid Missions

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Dragon being recovered in the Pacific. (Credit: SpaceX)

This week in The Space Review

2010: the year commercial human spaceflight made contact
A year ago commercial crew transportation was treated skeptically, at best, in the space community; now it’s a part of national policy with the support of companies large and small. Jeff Foust reports on how last week’s successful flight of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft may help secure the long-term future for commercial human spaceflight.

Commercial space and the media
Last week’s successful Falcon 9/Dragon launch was certainly a major milestone for the space industry, but it got little attention in some sectors of the mainstream media. Anthony Young examines this state of affairs.

The case for a human asteroid mission
Some still question the utility of mounting human missions to near Earth asteroids. Lou Friedman discusses not only why such missions are important, but also why the timetable for them should be accelerated.

Review: Dream Walker
Some people read astronaut memoirs to learn more about life as an astronaut, while others may read them to provide insights to motivate them to achieve their own goals. Jeff Foust reviews one such book that is a better fit for those in the latter category.

The Pioneer lunar orbiters: a forgotten failure
Fifty years ago this week NASA wrapped up a largely unsuccessful series of missions to send a spacecraft in orbit around the Moon. Andrew LePage recalls the origins and unlucky fates of the Pioneer lunar orbiters.

Congressional Praise for SpaceX’s Successful Dragon Flight

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Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL

The leading congressional authority on the U.S. space program said Wednesday that America is on track to remain a global leader in space, science and technology, after a privately owned rocket carrying a capsule powered off a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and into outer space before returning safely to Earth.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson made his comments today following the successful launch into low-earth orbit and return to Earth of the 157-foot tall Falcon 9 rocket and the Apollo-like unmanned Dragon capsule built by Space X. With the splash down of its capsule in the Pacific, Space X became the first private company to successfully recover a spacecraft sent into outer space.

“We’ve arrived at the dawn of new era of U.S. space exploration that should ensure America remains a leader in space exploration,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who was a crew member aboard a 1986 space shuttle mission, and now heads a Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA.

In September, Congress approved a Nelson-engineered NASA budget blueprint that would help boost the commercial rocket industry – such as the development of the Falcon 9 – and have NASA become the chief player for building a new deep-space rocket and carry out missions to Mars.

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Forward into the Slipstream…

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Dragon floats down under three parachutes after its maiden flight to space. (Credit: SpaceX)

The three overused cliches in technology circles are: “paradigm shift,” “game changer,”  and “moving the needle.” The first is vague, meaningless and pretentious with a capital “TIOUS.” These latter two are often used by executives to rally their troops on behalf of one company saving initiative or another. More often than not, they are half right: the needle (market share, profits) moves, but in the wrong direction. Meanwhile, the game remains the same — and they are losing it. Badly.

That being said, it’s not hard to apply these phrases to what SpaceX accomplished on Wednesday. Elon Musk’s start-up rocket company nailed all three objectives.

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Dragon Flight Paid Tribute to Monty Python, Bad Val Kilmer Film

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SPACEX MISSION UPDATE

Before the successful launch, voyage, and recovery of SpaceX’s Dragon Spacecraft, the first time in history a commercial company has recovered a spacecraft from orbit, reporters were buzzing with news of a “secret” payload, stowed on board. It was a payload so secret, SpaceXers made it Top Secret (think Val Kilmer 1984, not official US Government).

“Top Secret” payload, bolted to the floor of the Dragon spacecraft. (Credit: Chris Thompson)

So what was inside the mystery package?  Their tribute to Monty Python.

A wheel of cheese.

Photo Credit: Chris Thompson, SpaceX

The original Monty Python sketch below.

Praise Flows In for SpaceX’s Successful Falcon 9-Dragon Flight

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SpaceX Declares Dragon Mission Successful; Press Conference Set for 3:30 EST

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Falcon 9's second stage fires away. (Credit: SpaceX)

SPACEX PRESS RELEASE

Today, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to re-enter a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit.

SpaceX and NASA will have a post-mission press conference at 3:30 PM EST at the press site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Participants include:

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and CTO
  • Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President
  • Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Manager

Watch it live at www.nasa.gov/ntv

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Pictures: Falcon 9 and Dragon from Ignition to Orbit

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The Falcon 9 at ignition. (Credit: SpaceX)

The Falcon 9 lifts off. (Credit: SpaceX)

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Dragon Splashes Down in the Pacific After Two Orbits

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Artists conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit

@SpaceXer reports that Dragon has successfully re-entered the atmosphere.

Drogue chutes have deployed to slow the capsule down.

@SpaceXer: “THREE MAIN PARACHUTES DEPLOYED!!!!”

@SpaceXer: “SPLASHDOWN!!!”

@SpaceXer: “Splashdown on target. Mission is a success!”

@SpaceXer:  “Recovery crew has put the floats on the Dragon already.”

Looks like a highly successful mission.

Wow! A MASSIVE step forward. Congratulations to SpaceX!!

The first commercial company to re-enter a vehicle from space. And a major milestone in NASA’s COTS program to provide commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station.