SpaceX will launch its third Dragon spacecraft this year to the International Space Station on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 1231 EST, delivering thousands of pounds of science equipment and supplies for the astronaut crew. The engines to be used in the launch completed a successful test-fire on Thursday afternoon.
Successful test-firing of the Merlin engines prior to the launch itself
Chief among the payloads will be the new Cosmic-Ray Energetics and Mass
investigation (CREAM) apparatus, which will be attached to the Japanese external “porch” on its laboratory module. It’s hoped that, over the course of its three-year mission, it will provide scientists with a clearer picture of the structure of our universe.
Also among the science payloads being delivered is an experiment to grow protein LRRK-2. It’s long been known that protein crystals grow orders of magnitude faster in microgravity, and with greater crystalline strength. This particular type has been identified as being correlated to the pathology of Parkinson’s Disease; so it is hoped that this experiment, developed by the Michael J. Fox Foundation and other partners, will help scientists understand the disease itself better.
Additionally, this flight itself will be historic in that it will be the last time that a factory-new Dragon craft will be flown for some time. Eventually, of course, they’ll have to make more, but from here on out, the plan is to fly used, saving the company, NASA, and American taxpayers millions–if not billions–of dollars.
Watch the launch live-streamed with us on YouTube or at http://www.spacex.com.
After the presentation, we assume he flew away in an Iron Man armor suit.
If you missed out on last week’s public unveiling of the Dragon v2 spaceship, you really missed out. It had all of the “cool” factor of an Apple product debut–but when was the last time your smartphone shot a 30-foot flame behind it? Tens of thousands of viewers watched online when the sheets were pulled off of it, revealing what will in all likelihood be the first 21st-century spacecraft to take adventurous souls out into the ‘Verse. The media and the general public were blown away by the touted features of powered-descent landings “with the accuracy of a helicopter,” and especially the sleek, futuristic control panel.
The smooth, streamlined touchscreen interfaces made so much of an impression, in fact, that it may have overshadowed some of the other salient details revealed during the event. We thought that, now that the press has had a moment to catch its breath, we’d help read between the lines for you about what was said–and what wasn’t said, but can be deduced.
Steven “Swanny” Swanson
Years ago, a young man found himself about to finish grad school, and began to contemplate his career path in life for the first time. He knew that he wanted to be in a field in science and technology–which was fitting, given that his bachelor’s was in Engineering Physics and that the advanced degree he was about to earn was in Computer Systems.
Finding one’s passion is one of the easier–and more enjoyable–pursuits in life, but finding a way to make a productive career out of it is something that precious few among us are fortunate enough to achieve (and even fewer now with the loss of so many of the jobs that people go to college for). The more the young man thought about it, the more sure he became aware that he was not content to spend the rest of his life “sitting in an office all day long every day.” Long before he would be eventually be introduced to the ‘Verse, this much he knew: he aimed to misbehave. From there, deciding to become an astronaut almost seemed like the logical course. He had no idea if such a thing would really prove possible in the end–but doing the impossible makes us mighty. Continue Reading
A common misconception that we often encounter is that many people think that space is really far away. Others don’t understand the difference between “sub-orbital” and orbital craft, i.e. why we can’t use tourist craft like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo to go to Mars, or why SpaceX’s Dragon is similarly a poor match for space tourism.
Ni hao and welcome back to our ongoing look at the science and technology of everyone’s favorite cancelled TV show, Firefly. Today, we’re slipping the surly bonds of Earth-That-Was to look at gravity-defying vehicles and artificial gravity generators in space. As always, we’ll start by setting boundaries: We’re defining “anti-gravity” or gravity-defying craft as vehicles that travel hovering a finite distance from a gravity-generating point mass (such as the center of a planet) without generating any thrust or propulsion. That last part is the kicker: Rockets, helicopters, and Serenity herself don’t count, because they all get around by propelling something (air or superheated gases) downwards in order to push themselves upwards. Continue Reading
Welcome to the first in a series examining the real-life science behind Joss Whedon’s not-quite-science-fiction-more-of-a-western Firefly and its follow-up film sequel, Serenity. First up, we’ll be looking at a staple of pop-culture sci-fi that, interestingly enough, is only rarely seen in Firefly and Serenity: lasers, phasers, energy weapons, and other PEWPEWPEW! Continue Reading
Ni hao, everyone. I’ve kind of got a bone to pick with you. You see, I recently had a conversation with a stranger that left a sour taste in my mouth. Normally, that wouldn’t be any cause for letting it bother me, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve had this exact same conversation with countless other people saying the exact same thing. It starts with them asking me if I’m a college student studying in the area, probably because I look young for my age. I tell them that I actually graduated in 2011 and start to tense up, as I begin to sense that I’m in for another repeat. My fears are confirmed when they ask what my degree was in. My reply of “aerospace engineering” is typically met with a blank stare, until I explain that it essentially means “rocket science.” “Oh,” they exclaim, “that’s so cool!” Continue Reading