Hi Everybody!!

Hi Everybody!!
Welcome to my Hometown!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Hi Everybody!   Field Trip Tonight!

In view of last week's Historic Events in Space, we are going to celebrate tonight by going to the SpaceX Headquarters to meet the people and tour the facility where dreams turn into rockets and dragons! Most of all, I want to introduce you to Elon Musk, the Man with the Plan! He is our Space Age Hero who makes it all happen!  I am so very proud of him and his efforts to help Humanity.

So, Come On, Let's Go!! A good trip tonight to Headquarters. The complete Dragon trip of last week. Space Dragon Photostudy by NASA from spacex.com website. Sneak peak to the Mars Mission. And, of course, public information for anyone interested. 
(Thank You Wikipedia and You Tube!)  
Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, I did not fly around in space and take any of the photos in this post. I leave that to the experts, NASA is Top Shot!
Also, I do not work for anyone in Space Exploration and they do not work for me at the bird sanctuary. (My birds are still top design in flight with no harmful exhaust!) The Birds here keep the flying fuel costs down by running on berries and seed.
I am, however, among the best of cheerleaders for the Space Explorers and the Heroes!!  Well Wishes for All and Enjoy the Blog! (open 24/7).

File:Entrance to SpaceX headquarters.jpg
HeadquartersHawthorneCalifornia, USA
Key people
Elon Musk (CEO and CTO)
Gwynne Shotwell (President)[1]
Tom Mueller Co-Founder and VP of Propulsion[2]
ProductsOrbital rocket launch
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
Employees> 1,800 (2012)[3]
To begin the tour of Spacex, Just Push Play>


Musk in 2008.
BornJune 28, 1971 (age 40)
Pretoria, South Africa[1]
ResidenceBel Air, Los Angeles, California
CitizenshipUnited States[2]
EducationB.S. in Physics and B.A. Economics from University of Pennsylvania
OccupationEngineer, inventor, entrepreneur
Known forCo-founder of Zip2, PayPal,SpaceXTesla Motors
Net worthincrease $2 billion (2012)[2]
TitleCEO and CTO of SpaceX,
Chairman of SolarCity,
CEO of Tesla Motors
Political partyIndependent[4]
SpouseJustine Musk 2000–2008
Talulah Riley 2010–2012
ChildrenFive sons

Elon Musk

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Elon Musk (born June 28, 1971) is a South African-American business magnate, engineer and inventor. He is best known for co-founding SpaceXTesla Motors and X.com, which later became Paypal after acquiring the service. He is currently the CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman ofSolarCity. While at those companies, Musk co-designed the first viable electric car of the modern era[5], the Tesla Roadster, a private successor to the Space ShuttleFalcon 9/Dragon, and the world's largest Internet payment system, PayPal.

Early life

Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, the son of a Canadian-American mother and a South African father. His maternal grandfather was from Minnesota, and had moved toSaskatchewan, where Musk's mother was born. His father is an engineer and his mother is an author, nutritionist and model, appearing on the cover of New York Magazine in 2011 and a Time Magazine supplement in 2010[6].
Musk bought his first computer at age 10 and taught himself how to program;[7] by the age of 12 he sold his first commercial software for about $500, a space game called Blastar.[7]
After matriculating at Pretoria Boys High School he left home in 1988 at the age of 17, without his parents' support and in part because of the prospect of compulsory service in the South African military: "I don't have an issue with serving in the military per se, but serving in the South African army suppressing black people just didn't seem like a really good way to spend time".[7] He wanted to move to the US, saying: "It is where great things are possible".[8]
In 1992, after spending two years at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada, Elon left Canada, pursuing business and physics at theUniversity of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship. From the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, he received an undergraduate degree, and stayed on another year to finish a second bachelor's degree in physics.[9] His undergraduate degrees behind him, and drawing inspiration from innovators such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla,[10] Musk then considered three areas he wanted to get into that were "important problems that would most affect the future of humanity", as he said later, "One was the Internet, one was clean energy, and one was space"


Musk with President Obama at the Falcon 9 launch site in 2010
In June 2002, Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX),[18] of which he is currently the CEO and CTO. SpaceX develops and manufactures space launch vehicles with a focus on advancing the state of rocket technology. The company's first two launch vehicles are the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets and its first spacecraft is Dragon[19].
On 23 December 2008, SpaceX was awarded a $1.6 billion NASA contract for 12 flights of their Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, replacing the Space Shuttle after it retired in 2011. Initially, Falcon 9/Dragon will replace the cargo transport function of the Shuttle and astronaut transport will be handled by the Soyuz. However, SpaceX has designed Falcon 9/Dragon with astronaut transport in mind and theAugustine commission has recommended that astronaut transport be handled by commercial companies like SpaceX.[20]
Musk views space exploration as an important step in expanding—if not preserving—the consciousness of human life.[21] Musk has said that multiplanetary life may serve as a hedge against threats to the survival of the human species. "An asteroid or a super volcano could destroy us, and we face risks the dinosaurs never saw: An engineered virus, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, catastrophic global warming or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us. Humankind evolved over millions of years, but in the last sixty years atomic weaponry created the potential to extinguish ourselves. Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond this green and blue ball—or go extinct." Musk's goal is to reduce the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 100. He founded SpaceX with $100 million of his early fortune. He remains chief executive officer and chief technology officer of the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company.
In seven years, SpaceX has designed the family of Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon multi-purpose spacecraft from the ground-up. In September 2009, SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately funded liquid-fueled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit. NASA selected SpaceX to be part of the first program that entrusts private companies to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. This contract, which has a minimum value of $1.6 billion and a maximum value of $3.1 billion, has become a cornerstone of the Space Station's continued access to cargo delivery and return. In addition to these services, SpaceX's goals include simultaneously lowering the price of orbital spaceflight and improving reliability, both by an order of magnitude, while creating the first fully reusable orbital launch vehicle. In the coming years, Musk will focus on delivering astronauts to the International Space Station, but has stated his personal goal of eventually enabling human exploration and settlement of Mars. In a 2011 interview, he said he hopes to send humans to Mars' surface within 10–20 years.[22]. On May 25, 2012, the SpaceX Dragon vehicle docked with the ISS, making history as the first commercial company to launch and dock a vehicle to the International Space Station.

Awards and recognition

Listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 people who most affect the world in 2010. Jon Favreau, director of the Iron Man movies, describes in his article how Musk was the inspiration for Favreau's film depiction of genius billionaire Tony Stark.[37]
The world governing body for aerospace records, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, presented Musk in 2010 with the highest award in air & space, the FAI Gold Space Medal, for designing the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit. Prior awardees include Neil ArmstrongBurt Rutan of Scaled Composites and John Glenn.
Named as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire magazine.[21]
In June 2011, Musk was awarded the $500,000 Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization[38]
In February 2011, Forbes listed Musk as one of "America's 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under".[39]
Recognized as a Living Legend in Aviation in 2010 by the Kitty Hawk Foundation for creating the successor to the Space Shuttle (Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft). Other awardees include Buzz Aldrin and Richard Branson.[40]
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics George Low award for the most outstanding contribution in the field of space transportation in 2007/2008. Musk was recognized for his design of the Falcon 1, the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to reach orbit.[41]
National Space Society's Von Braun Trophy in 2008/2009, given for leadership of the most significant achievement in space. Prior recipients include Burt Rutan and Steve Squyres.[42]
National Wildlife Federation 2008 National Conservation Achievement award for Tesla Motors and SolarCity. Other 2008 awardees include journalist Thomas Friedman, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and Florida Governor Charlie Crist.[43]
The Aviation Week 2008 Laureate for the most significant achievement worldwide in the space industry.[44]
R&D Magazine Innovator of the Year for 2007 for SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity.[45]
Automotive Executive of the Year (worldwide) in 2010 for demonstrating technology leadership and innovation via Tesla Motors. Prior awardees include Bill Ford Jr, Bob Lutz, Dieter Zetsche and Lee Iacocca. Musk is the youngest ever recipient of this award.[46]
Inc Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2007 for his work on Tesla and SpaceX.[47]
2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster.[48]
Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev.[49]
Honorary doctorate in design from the Art Center College of Design [50]
Musk is a Director of the Planetary Society, a Trustee of The X-Prize Foundation and a member of the Stanford University Engineering Advisory Board. He has previously served as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board.[51]
In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Musk was ranked as the #10 (tied with rocketry pioneer and scientist Wernher von Braun) most popular space hero.[52]
In 2010, Musk was elected to the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology.[53]
In 2011, Musk was honored as a Legendary Leader at the Churchill Club Awards.

This is his Website! A must see!

Dragon Spacecraft with Solar Panels deployed
Fully autonomous rendezvous and docking with manual override capability in crewed configuration
  • 6,000 kg (13,228 lbs) payload up-mass to LEO; 3,000 kg (6,614 lbs) payload down-mass
  • Payload Volume: 10 m3 (350 ft3) pressurized, 14 m3  (490 ft3) unpressurized
  • Supports up to 7 passengers in Crew configuration
  • Two-fault tolerant avionics system with extensive heritage
  • Reaction control system with 18 MMH/NTO thrusters designed and built in-house; these thrusters are used for both attitude control and orbital maneuvering
  • 1290 kg of propellant supports a safe mission profile from sub-orbital insertion to ISS rendezvous to reentry
  • Integral common berthing mechanism, with LIDS or APAS support if required
  • Designed for water landing under parachute for ocean recovery
  • Lifting re-entry for landing precision & low-g’s
  • Ablative, high-performance heat shield and sidewall thermal protection
To ensure a rapid transition from cargo to crew capability, the cargo and crew configurations of Dragon are almost identical, with the exception of the crew escape system, the life support system and onboard controls that allow the crew to take over control from the flight computer when needed.  This focus on commonality minimizes the design effort and simplifies the human rating process, allowing systems critical to Dragon crew safety and ISS safety to be fully tested on uncrewed demonstration flights.
For cargo launches the inside of the spacecraft is outfitted with a modular cargo rack system designed to accommodate pressurized cargo in standard sizes and form factors.  For crewed launches, the interior is outfitted with crew couches, controls with manual override capability and upgraded life-support.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, is a space transportcompany headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by former PayPalentrepreneur Elon Musk. It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicle, both of which were from conception designed with a goal of eventually becoming reusable. SpaceX also developed the Dragon spacecraft to be flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, initially transporting cargo and later planned to carry humans. On 25 May 2012, SpaceX made history as the world's first privately held company to send a cargo payload, carried on the Dragon spacecraft, to the International Space Station.[4]
In order to control quality and costs, SpaceX designs, tests and fabricates the majority of its components in-house, including the MerlinKestrel, and Draco rocket engines used on the Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract to design and demonstrate a launch system to resupply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). On 9 December 2010, the launch of the COTS Demo Flight 1 mission, SpaceX became the first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft. On 22 May 2012, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carried the unmanned Dragon capsule into space, marking the first time a private company has sent a spacecraft to the space station. The unmanned, cone-shaped capsule became the first privately built and operated vehicle to ever dock to the orbiting outpost.
NASA has also awarded SpaceX a contract to develop and demonstrate a human-rated Dragon as part of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program to transport crew to the ISS. SpaceX is planning its first crewed Dragon/Falcon9 flight in 2015, when it expects to have a fully certified, human-rated launch escape system incorporated into the spacecraft.
Besides NASA contracts, SpaceX has signed contracts with private sector companies, non-American government agencies and the American military for its launch services. It has already launched, for a paying customer, a low earth orbiting satellite with its Falcon 1 booster in 2009.[5] The company plans to launch its first commercial geostationary satellite in 2013 from a Falcon 9.
Future projects that are in the planning stages or in development include the Falcon Heavy launch system, as well as a NASA robotic mission to Mars in 2018. The Heavy is based on Falcon 9 technology, and if construction goes as planned, it will be the most powerful rocket in the American inventory since the Apollo-era Saturn V. Falcon Heavy can be used to send a crewed Dragon spacecraft on lunar orbiting missions – such as the Apollo 8 mission; or be used to send a modified unpiloted Dragon on a Mars landing mission. Musk has stated that his intention for the company is to help in the creation of a permanent human presence on Mars.


SpaceX was founded in June 2002 by PayPal and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk who had invested $100 million USD of his own money by March 2006.[6] In January 2005, SpaceX bought a 10% stake inSurrey Satellite Technology Ltd.[7] On 4 August 2008, SpaceX accepted a further $20 million USD investment from the Founders Fund.[8] The company has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2002, growing from 160 employees in November 2005 to more than 500 by July 2008, to over 1,100 in 2010.[9][10] Two-thirds of the company is owned by its founder[11] and his 70 million shares are worth $875 million on private markets,[12] which roughly values SpaceX at $1.3 billion as of February 2012.[13]An initial public offering may happen by the end of 2013.[14]
Musk believes the high prices of other space-launch services are driven in part by unnecessary bureaucracy. He has stated that one of his goals is to improve the cost and reliability of access to space, ultimately by a factor of ten.[15] SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch and return a spacecraft from orbit on 8 December 2010, after its Dragon capsule returned from a two-orbit flight.[16] Space Foundation recognized SpaceX for its successful Dragon launch and recovery with the Space Achievement Award in 2011.[17]
At various conferences, SpaceX has revealed concept slides for future engine, stage, and launch vehicle designs. Development of these designs would be predicated on demand for increased performance. Company plans in 2004 called for "development of a heavy lift product and even a super-heavy, if there is customer demand" with each size increase resulting in a significant decrease in cost per pound to orbit. CEO Elon Musk said: "I believe $500 per pound ($1,100/kg) or less is very achievable."[18]
Elon Musk has stated the personal goal of eventually enabling human exploration and settlement of Mars.[19] He stated in a 2011 interview that he hopes to send humans to Mars' surface within 10–20 years.

Space vehicles

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft, lifts off during the COTS Demo Flight 1 on 8 December 2010.
SpaceX is manufacturing two main space launch vehicles: the Falcon 1, which made its first successful flight on 28 September 2008,[50][51] and the large Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)-class Falcon 9, which flew successfully into orbit on its maiden launch on 4 June 2010.[51] A Falcon 5 launcher was also planned, but its development was stopped in favor of the Falcon 9.[52] SpaceX also developed the Dragon, a pressurized orbital spacecraft that is launched on top of a Falcon 9 booster, that can carry cargo, and is in the process of being human-rated.

Falcon Heavy

The Falcon Heavy is a planned heavy-lift configuration using a cluster of three Falcon 9 first stage cores with a total 27 uprated Merlin 1D engines and propellant cross-feed.[63] SpaceX is aiming for the first demo flight of the Falcon Heavy in 2013.[63]


Inside the deck

The Dragon capsule at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

The Dragon capsule being captured by the Canadarm2 on May 25, 2012. The first time a privately built spacecraft has docked with the ISS
In 2005, SpaceX announced plans to pursue a human-rated commercial space program through the end of the decade.[64] The Dragon spacecraft is intended to carry up to seven astronauts into orbit and beyond.[65] It is a conventional blunt-cone ballistic capsule, which is capable of carrying 7 people or a mixture of personnel and cargo to and from low Earth orbit.[65] It is launched atop a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the spacecraft's nosecone is jettisoned shortly after launch. For NASA cargo missions, Dragon will be equipped with aCommon Berthing Mechanism, and will be berthed to the U.S. segment of the ISS by theCanadarm2.[66] For NASA manned missions, Dragon will be equipped with the NASA Docking System and dock to the U.S. segment.[67]
In 2006, NASA announced that the company was one of two selected to provide crew and cargo resupply demonstration contracts to the ISS under the COTS program.[68] SpaceX will demonstrate cargo resupply and eventually crew transportation services using the Dragon. NASA's original plan called for COTS demonstration flights between 2008 and 2010.[69][70]SpaceX was not able to meet that schedule, but eventually began test-flights in 2010.
The first flight of a Dragon structural test article took place 4 June 2010, from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during the maiden flight of the Falcon 9, although the mock-up Dragon lacked avionics, heat shield, and other key elements.[71] An operational Dragon spacecraft was launched on 8 December 2010 aboard COTS Demo Flight 1, the Falcon 9's second flight, and safely returned to Earth after two orbits, completing all its mission objectives.[53]
In 2009 and 2010, Musk suggested on several occasions that plans for a human-rated variant of Dragon were proceeding and had a 2- to 3-year time line to completion.[72][73] On 18 April 2011, NASA granted SpaceX $75 million to develop Dragon's integrated launch escape system in preparation for human-rating it as a crew transport vehicle to the ISS as part of its second-round CCDev Space Act funding.[74] This Space Act Agreement runs from April 2011 until May 2012, when the next funding round grants are to be awarded.[74] NASA approved the technical plans for the system in October 2011, and SpaceX began building prototype hardware.

"Red Dragon" Mars mission concept

In addition to SpaceX's privately funded plans for an eventual Mars mission, as of July 2011 NASA Ames Research Center is developing a concept for a low-cost Mars mission that would utilize Falcon Heavy as the launch vehicle and trans-Martian injection vehicle, and theDragon capsule to enter the Martian atmosphere. The concept, called 'Red Dragon', would be proposed for funding in 2012/2013 as aNASA Discovery mission, for launch in 2018 and arrival at Mars several months later. The science objectives of the mission would be to look for evidence of life — detecting "molecules that are proof of life, like DNA or perchlorate reductase ... proof of life throughbiomolecules. ... Red Dragon would drill 3.3 feet (1.0 m) or so underground, in an effort to sample reservoirs of water ice known to lurk under the red dirt." The mission cost is projected to be less than $425,000,000, not including the launch cost.
(See remaining article at link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX
The Mars photo above is from the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera-2.  It was taken on March 10, 1997, just before opposition and just before summer solstice.  The white area at the top of the photo is the permanent north polar cap.  A haze can be seen in the equatorial region.  The dark area near the center of the photo is Syrtis Major.http://www.umich.edu/~lowbrows/reflections/2001/dsnyder.7.html
Credit for the Mars photo: David Crisp and the WFPC2 Science Team (Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology).
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University Lowbrow Astronomers
Historic Dragon Flight to ISS:
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(Post Reshared by me on G+):

brendasue watson

Jun 3, 2012  -  Public
SpaceX originally shared this post:
Mission Highlights: SpaceX employees celebrate the successful launch of Falcon 9 on May 22, 2012. 

SpaceX employees standing outside mission control at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California, watching the successful stage separation. 5/22/12 Visit: http://www.spacex.com/ for more information on SpaceX, Dragon, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, reusable rockets, grasshopper, Mars, upcoming rocket launch, or Elon Musk. For more information on SpaceX: http://www.spacex.com/ http://twitter.com/spacex http://www.facebook.com/SpaceX
Andrew Jackson's profile photoSally Frederick-Tudor's profile photo
Hooray!!!!!!!!!!Just Push Play>

SpaceX Dragon returns to Earth, ends historic trip
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Triumphant from start to finish, the SpaceX Dragon capsule parachuted into the Pacific on Thursday to conclude the first private delivery to the International Space Station and inaugurate NASA's new approach to exploration.
"Welcome home, baby," said SpaceX's elated chief, Elon Musk. The old-fashioned splashdown was "like seeing your kid come home," he said.
He said he was a bit surprised to hit such a grand slam.
"You can see so many ways that it could fail and it works and you're like, 'Wow, OK, it didn't fail,'" Musk said, laughing, from his company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. "I think anyone who's been involved in the design of a really complicated machine can sympathize with what I'm saying."
The goal for SpaceX will be to repeat the success on future flights, he told reporters.
The unmanned supply ship scored a bull's-eye with its arrival, splashing down into the ocean about 500 miles off Mexico's Baja California peninsula. A fleet of recovery ships quickly moved in to pull the capsule aboard a barge for towing to Los Angeles.
It was the first time since the shuttles stopped flying last summer that NASA got back a big load from the space station, in this case more than half a ton of experiments and equipment.
Thursday's dramatic arrival of the world's first commercial cargo carrier capped a nine-day test flight that was virtually flawless, beginning with the May 22 launch aboard the SpaceX company's Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral and continuing through the space station docking three days later and the departure a scant six hours before hitting the water.
The returning bell-shaped Dragon resembled NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft of the 1960s and 1970s as its three red-and-white striped parachutes opened. Yet it represents the future for American space travel now that the shuttles are gone.
"This successful splashdown and the many other achievements of this mission herald a new era in U.S. commercial spaceflight," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of NASA's commercial crew and cargo program, was emotional as he turned to Musk and assured him that NASA was now his customer and that resupply services were about to unfold on a regular basis.
"You have turned those hopes into a reality," Lindenmoyer said.
Noted Musk: "It really shows that commercial spaceflight can be successful. I mean, this mission worked first time right out the gate."
Musk, the billionaire behind PayPal and Tesla Motors, aims to launch the next supply mission in September under a steady contract with NASA, and insists astronauts can be riding Dragons to and from the space station in as little as three or four years. The next version of the Dragon, for crews, will land on terra firma with "helicopter precision" from propulsive thrusters, he noted. Initial testing is planned for later this year.
President Barack Obama is leading this charge to commercial spaceflight. He wants routine orbital flights turned over to private business so the space agency can work on getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars. Toward that effort, NASA has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in seed money to vying companies.
NASA astronauts are now forced to hitch rides on Russian rockets from Kazakhstan, an expensive and embarrassing outsourcing, especially after a half-century of manned launches from U.S. soil. It will be up to SpaceX or another U.S. enterprise to pick up the reins. Several companies are jockeying for first place.
It will take a few days to transport the fresh-from-orbit Dragon by barge to the Port of Los Angeles. From there, it will be trucked to the SpaceX rocket factory in McGregor, Texas, for unloading and inspection. Reports from the scene are that the spacecraft looks "really good," Musk said, with no major changes needed for future Dragons, just minor tweaks.
SpaceX — or more properly Space Exploration Technologies Corp. — plans to hustle off a few returning items while still at sea to demonstrate to NASA a fast 48-hour turnaround. That capability would be needed for future missions bearing vital experiments.
The capsule returned nearly 1,400 pounds of old space station equipment and some science samples, a little more than it took up. Because it was a test flight, NASA did not want to load it with anything valuable. It carried up mostly food.
This was only the second time a Dragon has returned from orbit. In December 2010, SpaceX conducted a solo-flying shakedown cruise. Like the Dragon before it, this capsule will likely become a traveling exhibit.
Russia's Soyuz capsules for carrying crews also parachute down but on land, deep inside Kazakhstan. All of the government-provided cargo vessels of Russia, Europe and Japan are filled with station garbage and burn up on descent.
NASA lost the capability of getting things back when its shuttles were retired last July.
Rival Orbital Sciences Corp. hopes to have its first unmanned test flight off by year's end, launching from Wallops Island in Virginia. It, too, has a NASA contract for cargo runs.
The grand prize, though, will involve getting American astronauts flying again from U.S. soil and, in doing so, restore national prestige.
Aboard the space station is a small U.S. flag that soared on the first shuttle mission in 1981 and returned to orbit with the final shuttle crew. It will go to the first private rocket maker to arrive with a U.S.-launched crew.
After that, promises Lindenmoyer, there will be more opportunities for partnering NASA and industry — perhaps at the moon, Mars or beyond.
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation considers the Dragon's success a critical stepping stone. "It's a seminal moment for the U.S. as a nation, and indeed for the world," said its chairman, Eric Anderson.
The Associated Press
This photo provided by SpaceX shows the Dragon spacecraft on a boat in the Pacific Ocean on Thursday, May 31, 2012. Triumphant from start to finish, the Dragon parachuted into the Pacific on Thursday to conclude the first private delivery to the International Space Station and inaugurate NASA's new approach to exploration. (AP Photo/SpaceX)

Space Photography by NASA


Of course, one more Great Performance,
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....this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek.  See You next time.  Goodnight!