Feeds

SpaceX Falcon boosts to glory from Vandenberg space force base

As rival Cygnus podule finally docks at space station

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Internet zillionaire Elon Musk has carried out a successful test of his Falcon rocket, launching from the US military space-plex at California's Vandenberg airforce base even as the delayed Cygnus capsule from rival private-space contender Orbital Sciences overcame a software glitch to successfully dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

Cygnus had its operator Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) and space-watchers excited when it launched back on September 28th. It soon had them worried, after software was found to be faulty and the capsule was parked out of harm's way while a patch was uploaded. At the time nobody was saying just how long the capsule was rated to stay aloft without making its planned ISS rendezvous.

Definitely under discussion was a likely traffic jam in space, as a Soyuz capsule bearing a pair of Cosmonauts was due at the ISS on Saturday and had priority due to little operational details like humans needing to breathe oxygen. The Cosmonauts docked as scheduled and Cygnus was allowed to approach to within about ten metres of the ISS.

The space station's robotic arm, under the control of recent space drowning escapee astronaut Luca Parmitano, then grappled it into place so its 1500kgs of goodies could be brought aboard.

Cygus arrived not long before Space X, a rival commercial space operator, successfully launched a test flight of its Falcon 9 craft. The new rocket's big feature is booster rockets that have the potential to be re-used, an innovation SpaceX founder Elon Musk says could trim plenty of cost from future missions as the boost phase accounts for “almost three-quarters of the cost of the rocket”.

The Falcon 9's succesful test and Cygnus' arrival are good news for the world's space exploration efforts, as anything that makes it easier and cheaper to schlep stuff off-planet is welcome. It also sets up an interesting competition, because the Falcon's planned payload of 6 tons per Dragon capsule is more than double the 2.7 tons used in the Antares rocket that bears Cygnuses aloft. The Dragon is also designed to be recoverable, while OCS says the test Cygnus is destined for “destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean in late October.” ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.