SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon Cargo Rocket

SpaceX launched the Cargo Dragon C208 to the International Space Station. CRS-21 launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Block 5. It is the first SpaceX launch under the CRS 2 contract.

SOURCE- SpaceX, Everyday Astronaut
Written By Brian Wang,

22 thoughts on “SpaceX Successfully Launches Dragon Cargo Rocket”

  1. Good. These kinds of new rockets will probably flourish when we have an actual reason to go farther quicker, that is, after we have credible human presence in other planetary bodies.

    So far robotic science missions can live perfectly happy with a few additional years of trip time, doing orbit assists and complicated maneuvers instead of having a high Isp/high thrust rocket.

    But humans would need these high thrust/high Isp contraptions, to reduce the risks of space radiation and weightlessness in deep space missions.

    And of course, science missions will benefit too. I'd love to see a series of mission to the Sun's gravity lens happening in the first half of the century.

  2. Actually NASA is in the rocket development business, partnering with firms that are inefficient and cost far too much, who have too much access to the political decision makers who control the purse strings. With SpaceX, if NASA needs a rocket it is off the shelf with immediate delivery. If they need a space station, they can go with Bigelow and have one on time and budget at commercial costs. This will absolutely change the way NASA does business and if they still get politically hamstrung it will no longer shut our nation off from space the way we are now. We will have private industry to meet our needs now instead of having to play with a rigged deck, NASA and civilians alike.

  3. The point I was making was the lobbying and the damage it has done to NASA. Probably the only thing more damaging has been our elected officials changing their plans every 4-8 years based on political whims. NASA has some very smart people working for them and could get vastly more done without political interference. If their only decision considerations were engineering, science and maximizing their budget they and the country would be much further ahead than we are now. With the advent if space commercialization that is going to change.

  4. It was in the sense that it owned the result of the development process, which is still the case with SLS, but will probably end with it.

  5. Was carrying NanoRack's Bishop commercial airlock module for adding to the station, which was pretty big and heavy.

  6. NASA was never in the business of building rockets. As with all government entities, they solicit bids from contractors. That private contractor builds the rocket. The issue has always been with the severely overpriced, traditional aerospace/defense firms.

  7. They are already realizing it, given the latest 'hits' in the public eye they have (the crewed and cargo trips to the ISS) were performed by someone else.

    Which is good and expected. The government has no reason to be in the business of building and managing airplanes either. Just regulate them and use what the market provides.

    But NASA's crew rating still has some value, across industry and public alike. The good part is the mental barrier of launching humans in a privately developed rocket has already been breached with F9.

    I also believe is very likely SpaceX will have to eventually launch people without NASA's blessing, if it takes too long to satisfy their demands.

  8. The recovery barge was far down range, which usually means it was a "high energy" mission. Cargo dragon 2 is minus the life support equipment, and I think the super draco thrusters that crew dragon has, so it's much lighter. It must have carried a lot of cargo in terms of mass.

  9. Even with accidents, people who can afford it will not be deterred unless the accidents are egregious. Space flight itself, strapping yourself to a controlled explosion, is inherently risky yet I bet there are plenty of people on this site alone who would wait in line to go. Given a chance I would risk far greater than 1 in 20 chance of going down in flames.

  10. If Starship launches are as low cost as advertised, and with the advent of space commercialization, isn't NASA going to have to start facing the reality that they are no longer the gatekeeper of space any more? Could they stop civilians from launching on a rocket NASA does not like? If Starlink works as planned, SpaceX is not going to need to work with NASA any more because they will have a larger budget than NASA to play with. I am not sure of the regulations, which is why I am asking.

  11. LOL, my bad.

    I was really thinking about the public opinion's impact of the first death on another planet.

  12. I agree. But it's emotionally different if someone dies on a settlement due to disease or old age, to have them die on a launcher R.U.D. or on impact.

    Diseases and old age have no intention or neglect behind them, while accidents might.

  13. They can certainly decide to start launching people without NASA's crew rating, after they have a track of launch and return safety with statistics.

    And Starship should get a sizeable count of launches and returns relatively quickly. If all goes well, they can do so much faster than Falcon 9.

    But in the first years, it would be probably unwise to be too reckless in that regard. They still are in a most delicate phase of their project, where the winds of politics and the affected interests can still hurt them badly, if the public opinion turns against them for any reason.

    I'd argue for a track of several hundreds of launches and returns, to finally start considering launching people, and this for getting really solid statistics. As comparison, F9 started launching people before its 100th successful launch.

  14. In principle it wouldn't be too hard to put a Dragon 2 on the end of the Starship for flights with small numbers of passengers. Even several of them, the launch mass is only 12 tons, and the Starship cargo capacity is 100 tons. That would allow you 56 passengers with Dragon abort capacity. And put the Dragon into mass production for cost reduction! Simplified abort only capsules might bring that higher.

    It's for sure that you're not going to be flying large numbers on the Starship by itself until it has a lot of safe flights recorded. Well, not NASA astronauts. NASA man rating has to do with what they'll fly their own people on. He might have to fly a manned flight from his own launch pad without that man rating, though.

    Musk is currently projecting a first, unmanned, flight to Mars in 2022, maybe 2024. The first couple of missions would prove out the landing capacity on Mars, and probably drop off some useful consumables and equipment, similar to the Mars Direct plan. So, say, if everything goes well, first manned mission to Mars in 2026.

    He could have enough flights to get it man rated by then, if he gets it flying towards the end of 2021.

  15. Hopefully not on the first launches or returns.

    It would be disastrous beyond the obvious losses of human life, and it would give SpaceX's enemies ammo to stall them for several years.

    It seems very fortunate that Dragon 2 has abort modes. And ablative shields have never failed on return either. So even in the event of a serious launcher failure, the capsule will most likely be safely jettisoned.

    Abort modes are, I think, the Achilles' heel of Starship, and probably the deciding factor for any potential Mars mission in this decade. SpaceX will need to have a long safety record with launches and relaunches to convince NASA to launch anyone on it.

  16. Let's hope they get a LOT of human flights in safely before the first death, because there WILL be a first death, and NASA will freak. And they'll want a long, successful record to fight back with when NASA demands they stop launching for a year or two while figuring everything out.

  17. Considering a cost and capability comparison between SLS and Starship, hopefully SpaceX can put NASA out of the rocket building business. Actually, it would be nice to have market players like SpaceX and Bigelow put them out of any business that lobbyists can get involved in.

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