back to article SpaceX Crew Dragon docks at International Space Station

SpaceX and NASA have finished a fine weekend's work after the Crew Dragon capsule successfully made it into orbit and docked at the International Space Station The flight and docking appear to have gone off without a hitch. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley even managed to get some sleep during their 19-hour journey …

  1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    Perhaps

    They blew up the other rocket just to threaten this one into behaving. Seems to have worked!

    1. KarMann Bronze badge
      Alert

      Re: Perhaps

      Or, as they say, 'pour encourager les autres.'

      I must admit, I'd always assumed that line was about the French, but after checking just now, it turns out it was written by Voltaire, about the British, instead.

      1. Paul Cooper

        Re: Perhaps

        "Or, as they say, 'pour encourager les autres.'

        I must admit, I'd always assumed that line was about the French, but after checking just now, it turns out it was written by Voltaire, about the British, instead."

        Yes - on hearing of the execution of Admiral Byng.

    2. macjules Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Perhaps

      Well, SpaceX do seem to demonstrate a better system of recycling than the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

  2. richardcox13

    SpaceX landed the Falcon 9 rocket used in this launch so it can be re-used.

    I suspect it will be going to a museum rather than being reused.

  3. Thomas Gray

    Correct me if I’m wrong

    But isn’t it the first manned capsule to have been designed since the ‘70s? That’s more impressive to me than the 9 year stat that always gets bandied around.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

      I'm sure many have been designed in that time; it's just that very few have actually been built, even fewer tested and just this one actually used.

      1. Thomas Gray

        Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

        Successfully designed, built and launched. It was rather heavily implied, but the full clause made the original post awkward to read. My point stands though. Soyuz is a ‘60s design, Shuttle came from the ‘70s and since then nada.

        1. Andrew Alan McKenzie

          Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

          Well it's a little unfair. The Chinese Shenzou is Soyuz based, but larger, and was designed in the 1990s. Virgin's Spaceship 2 technically was the first post-shuttle manned space flight post-shuttle, albeit sub-orbital.

          1. Greybearded old scrote

            Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

            Here's your correction there's a reason for that number 2.

        2. KarMann Bronze badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

          Even then, there was the Orion capsule which was designed, built, and then launched in 2014, just without anyone on board, and it only did one orbit. I happened to be one of what I assume is a rather small number of people to see it in orbit myself in that time, living in just the right place for it at that time.

    2. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Correct me if I’m wrong

      But isn’t it the first manned capsule to have been designed since the ‘70s? That’s more impressive to me than the 9 year stat that always gets bandied around.

      Put it this way. It's only the 9th vehicle to have carried humans to space (and the first privately developed one).

      * Vostok

      * Voskhod

      * Mercury

      * Gemini

      * Apollo

      * Soyuz (albeit various iterations/versions)

      * Shuttle

      * Shenzhou

      * Crew Dragon

  4. tony2heads

    this is only half the trip

    It also needs to land safely

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: this is only half the trip

      Landing is MUCH easier.

      Going up involves controlling a massive explosion and directing it appropriately. Coming down has gravity doing most of the work and they just have to control the direction.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: this is only half the trip

        From up, the only direction available is 'down'.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: this is only half the trip

          From up, the only direction available is 'down'.

          Well there's also "more up"... "left" and "right". None of those are good though for this flight. Down would be the preferred flight path to get home.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: this is only half the trip

        > Landing is MUCH easier.

        Just ask Jaws and Dolly!

        1. KarMann Bronze badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: this is only half the trip

          She got a name? I honestly had no idea. Did it come from the credits, the novel, or was it given to her by the fans?

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: this is only half the trip

            You don’t think the film bore any relationship to the book do you? About the only thing they had in common was the name of the villain and a vaguely space theme (I read the Fleming original a while back).

            1. KarMann Bronze badge

              Re: this is only half the trip

              Yeah, I meant the novelisation, which was a thing, but, upon further reading, was called James Bond and Moonraker, and Dolly was completely left out of it, so obviously, that wasn't the source of the name.

          2. HildyJ Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: this is only half the trip

            Definitely not the books and it shows up in IMDB so it must have been just in the credits.

      3. james 68

        Re: this is only half the trip

        Landing, "coming down again", isn't as easy as you'd expect. To increase your orbit you add velocity, to decrease you slow your velocity. What happens when gravity effects the rate of descent? The capsule gains velocity. "Coming down again" might actually be more difficult (relatively speaking) than going up.

        1. Sean o' bhaile na gleann

          Re: this is only half the trip

          Not exactly on point, but I'll stick this link in here:

          www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb4prVsXkZU

      4. Lars Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: this is only half the trip

        "Landing is MUCH easier".

        Perhaps but more crew has died in the process of landing than going up, and if you hit the atmosphere at the wrong angle you might never land.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: this is only half the trip

          "if you hit the atmosphere at the wrong angle you might never land"

          Unless you're coming in on from an interplanetary trajectory, _parts_ of you can be assumed to land eventually.

          Landing at the same time and in the same place is not assured though

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: this is only half the trip

          in the case of a capsule, their heat shielding system is a bit different (and much simpler) than the one that failed on the space shuttle. The Space Shuttle's design had many tiles that were glued into place, and the (frequent) tile loss during launch could (and did) result in catastrophe. I think the entire heat shield is covered up during launch of the Dragon capsule and therefore it is not subject to debris or vibration damage like the Shuttle was.

          It might be a good idea to park an extra Dragon or two up on the ISS for emergency departures. it can hold more people + stuff than a Soyuz, and is likely to prove itself to be extremely reliable.

          Oh, and a beer for the successful launch. Cheers!

    2. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      Re: this is only half the trip

      Musk has said he's more worried about re-entry than launch. Something about the Dragon being asymmetrical which might cause a spin which might allow hot plasma into the emergency Draco thruster vents.

  5. Zebo-the-Fat

    Why the delay?

    Well done to everyone involved, but why did it take 3 hours from docking to opening the hatch, did they forget the key?

    I know they needed to equalise the pressure and temperature, but I would think that 10 - 15 minutes would be enough for that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why the delay?

      I'm not from NASA, but I believe they need to pressurise the "vestibule" (the gap between the ISS hatch and the dragon hatch) for long enough to understand the leak rate to vacuum.

      The outside of the dragon hatch was in sunlight for (probably) about an hour prior to attaching to the ISS, and therefore quite hot. (could be as much as 100 to 150 degrees, even with a clever paint material.) They therefore have to pressurise the vestibule for long enough that they have ruled out any pressure changes due to the temperature dropping to something reasonable, and log data for long enough to know that there is a good enough seal between the capsule and ISS. (There will be a leak of air to space, it just has to be at a low enough rate not to worry about.)

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: Why the delay?

      From experience, the most likely explanation is that despite being expected and on schedule, everyone indoors was asleep and it took three hours to wake the bastards up to open the door.

      They can't just drop a "sorry we missed you" card and bugger off like everyone else who finds that they're delivering to inconsiderate idiots.

    3. Filippo

      Re: Why the delay?

      I think AC has the correct detailed answer. But, speaking in general terms, I think that any time you do anything for the first time in space, no matter how certain you are that it's going to work, you do it as slowly and as accurately as you possibly can, and pause frequently to document everything. If it's mind-numbingly boring, you know you're doing it right.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Why the delay?

        While I appreciate they were being ultra meticulous as a first run, it seemed that the guys on the space station spent most of their time fiddling with the cameras.

  6. TeeCee Gold badge
    Alert

    Even the aircon worked...

    ...and no inconveniently invisible articulated trucks to avoid en route, so the autopilot worked too,

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      I rarely worry about the air conditioning but the ICE (In Capsule Entertainment) should have decent selection to choose from.

    2. Duffy Moon

      I do hope that nobody involved in building the least reliable cars in the western world, were involved in building the Dragon.

  7. dmck

    Starship at the moment is/was fuel tanks and an engine. So not really comparable.

    If your adding Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital vehicle, then Blue Origin's Capsule should also be mentioned.

  8. HildyJ Silver badge
    Pint

    Accomplishments and challenges

    First, congratulations. Beers all around, eh.

    Second, not mentioned was that while traveling to the ISS they performed successful manual in flight maneuvers. These were not required but were done to test the systems for future flights.

    Third, and most important, safe home. This is not as easy as some comments would suggest due to the need to survive super heating from atmospheric friction (which destroyed one shuttle) and the need for the parachutes to perform (which has been problematic in the past).

  9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    That logo

    That America Launch logo still renminds me of an 80's 8-bit game box cover. Top Gun? F15 Strike Eagle?

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: That logo

      Squint enough and it looks like a double headed eagle - Russian coat of arms?

  10. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Return

    Isn't the Crew Dragon much the same as the cargo version which has been going to and fro for a while?

    1. gypsythief

      Yes it is. So much so that all the Cargo Dragons that have been rattling up and down have been fully pressurised, and crewed by a team of specially trained Space Mice.

      All they had to do was add some seats and screens and jobs-a-gudun.

      1. MrBanana

        As long as they only add seats and screens. The problem with adding meat based intelligence to a system that worked fine when autonomous, is over enthusiasm with buttons marked "Do NOT press this button".

    2. Brangdon Bronze badge

      Re: Return

      Crew Dragon is surprisingly different to Cargo Dragon. For example, it has a lot of launch abort stuff that they don't bother with for cargo.

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