SpaceX Grasshopper Makes Record Hop
During the second NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon cargo run to the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday morning (March 3, 2013), Canadian astronaut, soon-to-be ISS commander and hugely popular orbital Twitter user Chris Hadfield kept tabs on the Dragon berthing. Here are the stunning views he captured during the successful capture. Here, the Dragon capsule is grappled by the station's robotic arm -- an instrument designed and built by MDA Space Missions for the Canadian Space Agency. "Tonight's Finale: A Dragon, snared and tamed by Canadarm2. Saint George ringing in a new era in the silence of space," Hadfield tweeted. Here are some more views shared by Hadfield with the world via his Twitter account, @Cmdr_Hadfield.
The Canadarm2 awaits the arrival of the Dragon capsule. The robotic arm is the primary component of the space station's Mobile Servicing System (MSS) that was installed in 2001. The Canadarm2 provides support to astronauts on board the station -- berthing spacecraft, providing maintenance services and moving equipment around the station's exterior. "Canadarm2, proud builder of the International Space Station, in preparation for the successful grabbing of a Dragon," tweeted Hadfield.
"Dragon comes into view - first sight this morning, sneaking up on us from behind the Progress solar array," tweeted Hadfield, referring to one of the solar panels of the docked Russian Progress cargo vehicle.
"Self-portrait in the Cupola with rising Dragon below, Africa behind."
As the Dragon approached the space station, there were plenty of photo ops for the astronauts. "The Dragon spaceship high over Mount Etna - both spitting fire," said Hadfield as the spacecraft passed over the east coast of Sicily, Italy.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft over the Sahara Desert before space station berthing on March 3, 2013.
"Like a Praying Mantis, Canadarm2 poised to reach out and grab Dragon."
"Success! Canadarm2 holds Dragon by the nose, to drag it up and hook it on to a Station hatch," said Hadfield via his Twitter account when the Dragon was snared at 5:31 am EST Sunday morning.
An experimental reusable rocket built by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, soared to a record 263 feet (80 meters) before landing itself on its launch pad, company founder and chief executive Elon Musk said at the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin this weekend.
In keeping with the film, music and digital interests of his audience, Musk unveiled a new video of the rocket, known as “Grasshopper” which made its fourth and latest leap on Thursday.
Against a musical backdrop of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” the video showed the 100-foot tall Grasshopper rocket blasting off from the company’s MacGregor, Texas, test facility, climbing into the sky, hovering about 34 seconds and then landing on its launch pad.
Grasshopper’s previous record altitude, set in December, was 131 feet (40 meters) — roughly half as high, said company spokeswoman Christina Ra.
“If we can’t make rockets reusable, the cost is just prohibitive,” said Musk, a keynote SXSW speaker Saturday afternoon.
“The cost of the fuel and oxidizer on a Falcon 9 (SpaceX rocket) is 0.3 percent of the cost of the rocket, so it’s basically a very tiny number, similar to an airplane.
“How much does it cost to fuel an airplane and how much does it cost to buy an airplane? They’ve very different things,” Musk said.
“If humanity is ever to expand beyond Earth and have a self-sustaining base on another planet, it’s critical that we solve this problem,” he added.