Feeds

SpaceX Dragon gets green-light for launch to Space Station

Treat-laden private rocket in May ISS hookup

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Pic Elon Musk's SpaceX is getting ready to make history after its Dragon spacecraft was given the go-ahead for a 30 April launch for its resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The Dragon capsule with 'Draco' rockets in action. Credit: SpaceX

The cargoship test flight, assuming it goes off without a hitch, will mark the first time a commercially made spacecraft has ever blasted off to visit the ISS.

NASA and SpaceX officials met yesterday in Houston for the Flight Readiness Review, a typical part of pre-launch prep at the agency, and confirmed that the Dragon and its SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket were on track for the end of this month.

"Everything looks good heading to the April 30 launch date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, in a canned statement.

The Dragon is due to blast off from Cape Canaveral at 12.22 EDT (16.22 GMT) carrying 1,200 pounds of cargo.

Because this is a test flight, the cargo isn't critical stuff for the astronauts, but NASA and SpaceX are still hoping to see the ship fly close enough to the station for its robotic arm to grab it and berth it, which is the tricky bit.

Astronauts will then offload the cargo and reload the Dragon with 1,400 pounds of material to take back to Earth. The entire mission is expected to take around 21 days.

SpaceX has already proved that the Dragon can clear Earth's atmosphere and fly about, and even be retrieved from the Pacific Ocean when it comes back, but the software to get the craft to fly right beside the fast-moving ISS and stay there has not been tried.

"The thing that's really being tested on this flight is proximity operations and the berthing system," SpaceX CEO and chief designer Elon Musk told reporters at a briefing.

The test flight has been delayed several times while SpaceX made sure both the Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket were ready to be tried.

"A lot can go wrong; the rocket needs to perform as well as the space craft," Musk said, adding that there was still plenty of time to get it right. "This is a test flight so if we don’t succeed in berthing we have more missions later this year."

If the flight is totally successful, the Dragon could start making regular trips for NASA from later this year. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.