Friday, May 25, 2012

The Dragon Flies: SpaceX Photo, and Some Drawings

Inside view of Dragon, SpaceX, via zenfolio.com, used w/o permission"Successful Launch Kicks Off SpaceX's Historic Mission"
SpaceX Press Release (May 22, 2012)

"Today, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft to orbit in an exciting start to the mission that will make SpaceX the first commercial company in history to attempt to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station - something only a handful of governments have ever accomplished.

"At 3:44 a.m. Eastern, the Falcon 9 carrying Dragon launched from SpaceX's launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Now Dragon heads toward the International Space Station. On that journey it will be subjected to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the station.

"Broadcast quality videos, including video inside of the SpaceX factory, may be downloaded at vimeo.com/spacexlaunch and high-resolution photos are posted at spacexlaunch.zenfolio.com....

"...The vehicle's first stage performed nominally before separating from the second stage. The second stage successfully delivered the Dragon spacecraft into its intended orbit. This marks the third consecutive successful Falcon 9 launch and the fifth straight launch success for SpaceX...."

Dragon Spacecraft in Cargo Configuration. SpaceX, used w/o permission. As press releases go, that's a pretty good one: quite a few facts; hardly any corporate gibberish; and links to some pretty good graphics. SpaceX generally seems to be doing a good job of telling about Dragon and their other projects. Telling and showing. That color drawing is labeled "Dragon Spacecraft in Cargo Configuration" on their "Dragon Overview" page.

"...Dragon is a free-flying, reusable spacecraft being developed by SpaceX under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Initiated internally by SpaceX in 2005, the Dragon spacecraft is made up of a pressurized capsule and unpressurized trunk used for Earth to LEO transport of pressurized cargo, unpressurized cargo, and/or crew members. ..."
("Dragon Overview," SpaceX)

Dragon Spacecraft in Crew Configuration. SpaceX, used w/o permission.There's a picture of the "crew configuration" for Dragon, too.

The photo of Dragon's interior, the one that the Lemming put up there with the press release, isn't identified. From the drawings, it's the Lemming's guess that we're looking up at the squarish hatch near the top of Dragon.

What the Lemming likes particularly about SpaceX's Dragon is the 'commercial' angle. Sure, NASA's the big customer for now: but it looks like SpaceX and other companies are getting read to provide commercial transportation services to low Earth orbit. And, eventually, beyond.

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