The Return of the Dragon

NASA press release about the successful completion of the first commercial resupply mission the the International Space Station:

RELEASE: 12-381


HOUSTON — A Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 2:22 p.m. CDT Sunday a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The splashdown successfully ended the first contracted cargo delivery flight
contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station.

In the Water
Dragon in the Water after Splashdown
Image Credit: NASA

“With a big splash in the Pacific Ocean today, we are reminded American ingenuity is alive and well and keeping our great nation at the cutting edge of innovation and technology development,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Just a little over one year after we retired the Space Shuttle, we have completed the first cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. Not with a government owned and operated system, but rather with one built by a private firm — an American company that is creating jobs and helping keep the U.S. the world leader in space as we transition to the next exciting chapter in exploration. Congratulations to SpaceX and the NASA team that supported them and made this historic mission possible.”

The Dragon capsule will be taken by boat to a port near Los Angeles, where it will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing. Some cargo will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours. This includes a GLACIER freezer packed with research samples collected in the orbiting laboratory’s unique microgravity environment. These samples will help advance multiple scientific disciplines on Earth and provide critical data on the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. The remainder of the cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule.

The ability to return frozen samples is a first for this flight and will be tremendously beneficial to the station’s research community. Not since the space shuttle have NASA and its international partners been able to return considerable amounts of research and samples for

The Dragon launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on Oct. 7. It carried 882 pounds of cargo to the complex, including 260 pounds of crew supplies, 390 pounds of scientific research, 225 pounds of hardware and several pounds of other supplies. This included critical materials to support 166 scientific investigations, of which 63 were new. Returning with the Dragon capsule was 1,673 pounds of cargo, including 163 pounds of crew supplies, 866 pounds of scientific research, and 518 pounds of hardware.

The mission was the first of at least 12 cargo resupply missions to the space station planned by SpaceX through 2016 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

SpaceX is one of two companies that built and tested new cargo spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. Orbital Sciences is the other company participating in COTS. A demonstration flight of Orbital’s Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft to the station is planned in early 2013.

NASA initiatives like COTS and the agency’s Commercial Crew Program are helping develop a robust U.S. commercial space transportation industry with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the space station and low-Earth orbit. In addition to cargo flights, NASA’s commercial space partners are making progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next 5 years.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop and advance these commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system.

For more information about the International Space Station, visit:

For more information about NASA’s commercial space programs, visit:

NSS Announces Partnership with New Mexico Museum of Space History to Preserve the History of Space Advocacy

Las Cruces, New Mexico – October 17, 2012 – The National Space Society (NSS) and the New Mexico Museum of Space History (NMMSH) announced a new partnership on Wednesday for the establishment of a permanent home for historic records chronicling the development of the space activist community and the U.S. space industry.

This alliance is the result of four years of discussions and negotiations about the disposition of the Society’s archives (which go back as far as the mid-1970’s when Wernher von Braun founded the National Space Institute, a predecessor of NSS) and will officially enable the Museum to begin accepting materials from the Society.

Dale Amon, Chairman of NSS’s Archives Committee and a member of the NSS Board of Directors, announced the new partnership at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS). Amon stated, “If we do not save our history, it will be rewritten by others. It is up to us, the founders of the Space Movement and dedicated advocates of the space industry, to make sure there is an unambiguous record of how the future came to be and the huge role we played in it.”

“It is a rare privilege to have our Museum chosen to conserve and protect the National Space Society Collection. Current and future historians will find that this Collection provides an uncommon insight into the hearts and minds of the activists who founded what is known today as the commercial space industry,” said Chris Orwoll, Executive Director of NMMSH. “The Museum’s partnership with the National Space Society will ensure that this Collection, reflecting decades of dedication to opening space for all, will be preserved to provide understanding and education for future generations.”

Image: Dale Amon, NSS Archivist, and Kathy Harper, NMMSH Marketing & Public Relations in front of the Lynx I Spaceplane mock-up at the 2012 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight conference in Las Cruces. Click image for larger version (2500 pixels).

Amon and Orwoll also expressed their appreciation to ISPCS organizer Pat Hynes for her foresight in creating an event that fosters communication between different organizations and promotes partnerships throughout the space community.

New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the first commercial spaceport in history, is a major outcome of decades of work by space advocates at NSS and other like-minded citizens. The Museum project will not only detail that past effort, but document and preserve the evolution of space travel in the exciting years to come.

About the New Mexico Museum of Space History: The NMMSH is charged with collecting, researching, and preserving objects (artifacts and specimens) and documents related to its mission which is, in part, to educate its visitors from around the world, in the history, science, and technology of space. The museum’s Collections Management Program ensures proper accountability of the objects entrusted to its care, for the sake of posterity, and for the benefit of its constituents and clientele. This is accomplished through sound documentation; meticulous record keeping; collections-oriented research; artifact preservation/conservation; and strict compliance with the NMMSH Collections Management Plan policies/procedures and American Association of Museums (AAM) standards and guidelines. Located in Alamogordo, New Mexico, at the base of the Sacramento Mountains, the Museum is a tribute to the brave men and women who for centuries strove to conquer space. The Museum is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

NSS Applauds Success of Red Bull/Stratos High-Altitude Jump

The National Space Society congratulates Felix Baumgartner and the entire Red Bull Stratos team on the Mission to the Edge of Space, in which Baumgartner successfully completed a record-breaking, high-altitude parachute jump on Sunday afternoon.

Unofficially, Baumgartner’s jump from approximately 128,100 feet (24.2 miles) enabled him to break the sound barrier and achieve the supersonic speed of 833 mph for several seconds, thus breaking three of four previously set records that he was hoping to shatter: highest manned balloon flight, highest parachute jump, and fastest free fall.

Two of those records (highest jump and fastest free fall) were set by former Air Force pilot Joe Kittinger in 1960, who served as chief of capsule communications for Baumgartner’s trip to the stratosphere. Baumgartner missed breaking the longest free fall record – also held by Kittinger – by mere seconds.

Aside from being the latest in a series of very extreme sports challenges sponsored by Red Bull energy drinks, Baumgartner’s jump is very relevant to the aerospace and space tourism industries, as it provides new and critically important medical and scientific research about the effect of this type of parachute jump on the human body.

This research will result in improved safety features for our astronauts, as well as for the large numbers of space tourists who will soon be flying, and ultimately will help make high-altitude emergency bailouts not only feasible, but safe. Baumgartner’s jump is yet another stepping stone toward the feasibility of human beings regularly living, working, and traveling in space.

NSS Congratulates SpaceX Team — Commercial Space Is Open for Business

The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Elon Musk and the entire SpaceX team on another successful and historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This mission, known as Commercial Resupply Services-1 (CRS-1), is the second successful berthing of Dragon at the ISS, but the first time it has done so as part of a series of regular, contracted supply missions.

“SpaceX continues its march to space by achieving yet another historic milestone,” said NSS Executive Director Paul E. Damphousse. “This mission is proving a number of things, not the least of which is the fact that the Space X Falcon/Dragon architecture forms a highly robust system capable of mission success, notwithstanding the challenges faced by all space launches.”

Damphousse added, “The Commercial Cargo and Crew programs have the important near-term goal of providing services to the ISS. But in a more permanent sense, they are also integral parts of NASA’s ongoing efforts to develop systems and a space infrastructure that will make future programs more affordable, more capable, and more exciting, while enabling NASA to push on to the next frontier beyond low-Earth orbit.”

This second safe launching of Falcon and berthing of Dragon emphasizes yet again the practicality and economy of commercial cargo and crew programs, an important step on our path toward becoming a spacefaring civilization. NSS strongly believes and advocates that commercial space transportation is crucial to achieving the Society’s vision of “people living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and using the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.”

While we are very excited about SpaceX’s recent successes, NSS maintains that there is still much to be done in order for missions such as CRS-1 to become routine. The Society will continue to call on our nation’s leaders to support NASA, as well as SpaceX’s and other commercial companies’ goals to expand our permanent presence in space.

In the meantime, we look forward to the successful conclusion of CRS-1, which will further demonstrate that the commercial sector is moving forward and that the commercial space marketplace is officially open for business.

Sarah Brightman to Become First Global Recording Artist to Take Orbital Spaceflight

Global recording artist and UNESCO Artist for Peace Ambassador, Sarah Brightman, announced today in Moscow her intention to launch on a future orbital spaceflight mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in partnership with Space Adventures, Ltd., the world’s leading space experiences company.

Brightman will be part of a three-person crew travelling to the ISS on board a Soyuz rocket. Once on the ISS, she will orbit the Earth 16 times daily and intends to become the first professional musician to sing from space. The final scheduling of her trip to the space station will be determined by Roscosmos and the ISS partners in the coming months.

In conjunction with her role as a UNESCO Artist for Peace ambassador, Brightman sees life on board the space station – which requires the mindful, shared consumption of resources and a clear and unwavering focus on sustainability – as a model for how we might better inhabit our planet. During her estimated 10-day tenure on board the space station, Brightman will advocate for UNESCO’s mandate to promote peace and sustainable development to safeguard our planet’s future. Additionally, this journey will allow Brightman to advance education and empower the role of girls and women in science and technology in an effort to help close the gender gap in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.

“I don’t think of myself as a dreamer. Rather, I am a dream chaser,” said Sarah Brightman. “I hope that I can encourage others to take inspiration from my journey both to chase down their own dreams and to help fulfill the important UNESCO mandate to promote peace and sustainable development on Earth and from space. I am determined that this journey can reach out to be a force for good, a catalyst for some of the dreams and aims of others that resonate with me.”

Over the coming months, Brightman will explore and further develop plans with UNESCO to combine their activities and her space journey. Upon her return to Earth, she will continue to work with UNESCO in an effort to plan multiple, epic ‘Space to Place’ concerts at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, biosphere reserves, and geoparks. Together, the over-arching aim will be to organize events including concerts and multi-media, to involve as many people as possible and to engage a generation of ‘dreamchasers’ from all walks of life to help create a more sustainable future for our planet.

Within the coming months, Brightman will be releasing a new record entitled “Dreamchaser” in January 2013 – a collection of songs that has been influenced by the feelings and challenges of her space adventure. Additionally, in 2013, she will undertake the most comprehensive global tour performing around the world, beginning in Canada at the end of January and visiting all five continents over the following months. Following that, Brightman will embark upon six months of training in Russia ahead of her flight to the ISS.

“We are very enthusiastic to announce Sarah Brightman’s desire to launch to space. I have deep admiration for Sarah, not only for her well deserved title of being the world’s best-selling soprano, but for the young girl who was inspired by Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong to reach for her own star. We look forward to working with her to make her dream a reality,” said Eric Anderson, Chairman of Space Adventures, Ltd.

“I am pleased to announce that Sarah Brightman has been selected to participate in our spaceflight training program. This past July, Ms. Brightman completed and passed all of the required medical and physical evaluations; she’s fit and mentally prepared for our spaceflight training program. We will work closely with Space Adventures in supporting Ms. Brightman’s spaceflight candidacy,” said Alexey Krasnov, Head of Piloted Programs Department.

Throughout the next several months, Brightman will share pictures and experiences via her website (, giving visitors unique insights into her extraordinary journey and learning every step of the way.

Dragon – "The Ice Cream Truck Has Arrived"

At 3:56 AM Pacific Daylight time, Wednesday 10 October, the SpaceX Dragon space craft was successfully grappled by the Canadarm on the International Space Station (ISS). Referring to the fact that Dragon is capable of carrying powered equipment to and from the space station, the space station crew reported that they had captured Dragon and were looking forward to the chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream in the freezer aboard the space craft.

Dragon Attached to ISS – In The Sunlight Above Earth
Image Credit: NASA TV

SpaceX Launches First Official Cargo Resupply Mission to Space Station

SpaceX Press Release:

Cape Canaveral, FL — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday October 7.

The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 SpaceX missions to the space station under the company’s cargo resupply contract with NASA. On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station’s Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station hardware.

Dragon – the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth – will return with scientific materials and space station hardware.

The Falcon 9 rocket, powered by nine Merlin engines, performed nominally during every phase of its approach to orbit, including two stage separations, solar array deployment, and the final push of Dragon into its intended orbit. Dragon will chase the space station before beginning a series of burns that will bring it into close proximity to the station. If all goes well, Dragon will attach to the complex on October 10 and spend over two weeks there before an expected return to Earth on October 28.

“We are right where we need to be at this stage in the mission,” said Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technical Officer, SpaceX. “We still have a lot of work to do, of course, as we guide Dragon’s approach to the space station. But the launch was an unqualified success.”

The CRS-1 mission follows a historic demonstration flight last May when SpaceX’s Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to attach to the space station, exchange cargo, and return safely to Earth. The flight signaled restoration of American capability to resupply the space station, not possible since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.