Feeds

Elon Musk's SpaceX offers non-ISS spaceship

Cutting NASA's apron strings?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

PayPal multihecamillionaire Elon Musk's rocket company, SpaceX, has announced that it will fly a genuinely private-sector space mission - including return to Earth - as soon as 2010.

SpaceX concept of DragonLab - a Dragon re-entry capsule with unpressurised trunk attached

We don't need no stinkin' NASA.

SpaceX's plan to launch a variant on its "Dragon" capsule, to be called "DragonLab", was announced this week. The basic Dragon is intended to deliver cargo - and one day, perhaps astronauts - to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) spacelift programme.

NASA needs COTS because its own method of getting stuff to the ISS, the space shuttle, is intended to retire soon and the designated successor - Ares lift stacks and Orion capsules - won't be ready until at least the middle of the next decade. Much of SpaceX's work on its Falcon rockets has thus been funded by NASA - though the company expects to get a lot of commercial launch customers too.

At the moment, SpaceX has just proven its Falcon 1 rocket, which has achieved a successful launch on the fourth attempt. Falcon 1 stands out for its cheapness, but lacks the grunt to lift heavy payloads like the Dragon. Thus, SpaceX expects to demo its heavier Falcon 9 next year.

Once three Dragon flights have been carried out under COTS, however, SpaceX intends to launch the modified DragonLab with a variety of paid-for cargoes aboard.

The DragonLab, lacking an ISS docking collar, will be able to carry 6 tonnes to orbit and return half of that safely to Earth in the Dragon re-entry capsule, intended to splash down in the ocean off California. Unpressurised parts of the payload, perhaps small survey or scientific satellites, can be left in orbit.

SpaceX can't do its first DragonLab shot until 2010, but thinks it will have plenty of customers signed up for space aboard the mission by then. The company hosted a workshop for interested parties yesterday at its main fabrication plant in Hawthorne, California. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?