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calendar   Friday - May 25, 2012

On The Edge Of A Milestone African-American Achievement

Dragons In Space

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the dragon capsule, photographed from the International Space Station



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The privately bankrolled Dragon capsule approached the International Space Station for a historic docking Friday after sailing through a practice rendezvous the day before.

The unmanned SpaceX Dragon was on track most of the morning to deliver a half-ton of supplies and become the first commercial vessel to visit the space station. But as the capsule drew within 100 feet, flight controllers commanded it to retreat.

The capsule backed off to 230 feet as the SpaceX company worked to resolve a problem with the on-board tracking sensors. Stray reflections from the Japanese part of the space station were interfering with the Dragon’s laser-based sensors, officials said. SpaceX mission controllers quickly fixed the trouble and resumed the docking operation.

On Thursday, the capsule came within 1½ miles of the space station in a practice fly-by. It returned to the neighborhood early Friday so Kuipers and U.S. astronaut Donald Pettit could capture it with a robot arm. First, the capsule went through a series of stop-and-go demonstrations to prove it was under good operating control.

NASA ordered extra checks of the Dragon’s imagers as the capsule drew ever closer to the space station, putting the entire operation slightly behind schedule. Given that the Dragon is a brand new type of vehicle and this is a test flight, the space agency said it wanted to proceed cautiously.
...
This is the first time a private company has launched a vessel to the space station, an achievement previously reserved for a small, elite group of government agencies.
...
The California-based SpaceX — officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — is one of several companies vying for the chance to launch Americans from their homeland. That ability ended with NASA’s final shuttle flight last summer. To get to the space station, NASA astronauts must go through Russia, an expensive and embarrassing situation for the U.S. after a half-century of orbital self-sufficiency.

SpaceX’s billionaire maestro, Elon Musk, who helped create PayPal, said he can have astronauts riding his Dragon capsules to orbit in three or four years. His Falcon 9 rockets lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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right back atcha! The International Space Station, photographed by the dragon capsule



latest live blogging updates -

FRIDAY MORNING - Final Approach, Dragon Grapple

Around 2:00 AM Pacific/5:00 AM Eastern NASA will decide if Dragon is GO to move into the approach ellipsoid 1.4 kilometers around the space station. If Dragon is GO, after approximately one hour Dragon will move to a location 250 meters directly below the station. Dragon will then perform a series of maneuvers to show systems are operating as expected. If NASA is satisfied with the results of these many tests, Dragon will be allowed to perform the final approach to the space station.

Sometime around 6:00 AM Pacific/9:00 AM Eastern, astronauts on the space station will grapple Dragon with the space station’s robotic arm and the spacecraft will attach to the station.

Bayou Rocketry Blog has been following the Falcon 9/Dragon story since the beginning, and has some of the story of uber-geek Elon Musk:

It was bad SA television that gave Elon Musk part of his mysterious edge. As a 10-year-old he read whole volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica after emptying the family bookshelves — anything to avoid another episode of ChiPs or Die Man van Intersek.

Avoiding sports and bullies just as keenly, he sat alone in his boy cave at home in Pretoria, reading Jules Verne and playing Space Invaders. Now, 29 years later, Musk is still playing video games alone into the late hours of the night.

These days it is in a basement man cave in a leased mansion in Bel Air, California, where Musk, who sold his online payment system PayPal for R11bn in 2002, is plotting the future of the human race.

Sixteen months ago, the SA expat accomplished something only ever achieved by the governments of the US, Russia and China. He sent a spacecraft into orbit and then recovered it.

This Monday, he plans to change space flight forever, becoming the first entrepreneur to dock his own orbiter, Dragon, with the International Space Station.

And it literally is his spacecraft. Beyond founding his private SpaceX company in 2002, Musk likes to remind people that he is also the self-taught “chief designer” of the Falcon launch rockets and their Dragon capsules.

CrunchBase provides more info about Musk:

Elon Musk (born June 28,1971) is an entrepreneur and a co-founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and Space Exploration Technologies. He is chairman/CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, and chairman of SolarCity.

Musk was born and grew up in South Africa, the son of a South African engineer and a Canadian-born mother who has worked as a New York City dietitian and modeled for fun. His father inspired his love of technology and Musk bought his first computer at age 10 and taught himself how to program; by the age of 12 he sold his first commercial software, a space game called Blaster.

He immigrated to Canada in June 1989 at age 17. He left Canada in 1992 after getting a scholarship to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned an undergraduate degree in economics and stayed on another year to finish a second bachelor’s degree in physics. Musk then considered three areas he wanted to get into that were “important problems,” as he said later. “One was the Internet, one was clean energy, and one was space.

In 1995, Musk moved to California to enroll in a graduate program in high energy physics at Stanford, in which he stayed exactly two days before dropping out to start Zip2, which provided online content publishing software for news organizations. In 1999, Compaq’s AltaVista division acquired Zip2 for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options.

Genius, entrepreneur, billionaire, super geek, Silicon Valley legend, and maybe even the real Iron Man. Perhaps the greatest success story to come out of Africa in the 21st century, if not the 20th as well. A genuine African-American success story, one of almost literally stellar magnitude. You would think he’d be an inspiration to everyone, everywhere, and a real hero within the community.








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Elon Musk and one of his privately owned rocket ships


Oh. OH. Um, never mind.

UPDATE: GOTCHA!

Earlier this morning, the SpaceX Dragon capsule was successfully captured by the International Space Station Expedition 31 crew, making SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the ISS. The station’s robotic arm captured the Dragon at 9:56 a.m. ET after a journey that took three days, six hours, 11 minutes, and 23 seconds.

Dragon was later securely bolted to the Harmony module of the ISS at 12:02 p.m. ET.

Michael Suffredini, manager of the ISS program office, said he has talked many times about historic events and “this rates right at the top.”

“Having a contractor, relatively independent of NASA, design on its own a spacecraft that [they] tested and flew ... has been remarkable,” Suffredini said. “The spacecraft performed nearly flawlessly.”

Holly Ridings, NASA’s lead flight director for the SpaceX demo flight, added that it was a “really great day in space.”


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/25/2012 at 12:52 PM   
Filed Under: • AdventureAfricaSpaceSuccess Stories •  
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