SpaceX Crew Dragon flight test a success

April 1st, 2019

A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for Demo-1, the first uncrewed mission of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo: NASA

For the first time in history, a commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket, which launched from American soil, successfully made its way to the International Space Station and back home.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off March 2 on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

About six hours after departing the space station March 8, Crew Dragon splashed down at 8:45 a.m. EST approximately 230 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. SpaceX retrieved the spacecraft from the Atlantic Ocean and transported it back to port on the company’s recovery ship.

“Today’s successful re-entry and recovery of the Crew Dragon capsule after its first mission to the International Space Station marked another important milestone in the future of human spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “I want to once again congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams on an incredible week. Our Commercial Crew Program is one step closer to launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. I am proud of the great work that has been done to get us to this point.”
Later on Crew Dragon’s return, Bridenstine added, “Today’s successful (return) marks a new chapter in American excellence, getting us closer to once again flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. I proudly congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams for this major milestone in our nation’s space history. This first launch of a space system designed for humans, and built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership, is a revolutionary step on our path to get humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

Known as Demo-1, SpaceX’s inaugural flight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important uncrewed mission designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system. It brings the nation one-step closer to the return of human launches to the space station from the United States for the first time since 2011 – the last space shuttle mission.
Teams still have work to do after this flight to prepare the spacecraft to fly astronauts. The best way to advance the system design was to fly this spacecraft and uncover any other areas or integrated flight changes that might be required.

The program demonstrates NASA’s commitment to investing in commercial companies through public-private partnerships and builds on the success of American companies, including SpaceX, already delivering cargo to the space station. Demo-1 is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

“I’d also like to express great appreciation for NASA,” said Elon Musk, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX. “SpaceX would not be here without NASA, without the incredible work that was done before SpaceX even started and without the support after SpaceX did start.”

SpaceX to build spaceport on the Texas coast

August 5th, 2014

earthfromspace

By Mary Alys Cherry

Move over Florida — Texas soon will have its very own spaceport.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Gov. Rick Perry made it official Aug. 4 with Perry providing $2.3 million in incentives from the Texas Enterprise Fund and the state an additional $13 million for  infrastructure necessary to establish a spaceport on the Texas coast near Brownsville.

Contingent upon receipt of the required permits and approval of local agreements, the facility will create 300 jobs and pump $85 million in capital investment into the local economy, Perry said.

“Texas has been on the forefront of our nation’s space exploration efforts for decades, so it is fitting that SpaceX has chosen our state as they expand the frontiers of commercial space flight,” the governor said. “In addition to growing the aerospace industry in Texas, SpaceX’s facility will provide myriad opportunities for STEM education in South Texas, and inspire a new generation of Texas engineers and innovators.”

SpaceX currently operates a Rocket Development Facility in the small central Texas town of McGregor, near Waco, which has grown to over 250 employees since starting operations in 2003. The Brownsville facility will launch commercial satellites.

“SpaceX is excited to expand our work in Texas with the world’s first commercial launch complex designed specifically for orbital missions. We appreciate the support of Gov. Perry and numerous other federal, state and local officials who have partnered with us to make this vision a reality,” the SpaceX CEO said.

“In addition to creating hundreds of high tech jobs for the Texas workforce, this site will inspire students, expand the supplier base and attract tourists to the south Texas area,” Musk added.

Texas has a long history with both public and private spaceflight, the governor pointed out. NASA’s Johnson Space Center served as a hub for America’s human space exploration program from the early Gemini, Apollo and Skylab projects to today’s Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs.

The Legislature created the TEF in 2003 and reauthorized funding in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 to help ensure the growth of Texas businesses and create more jobs throughout the state, the governor’s office explained, adding that TEF projects must be approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. The fund has since become one of the state’s most competitive tools to recruit and bolster business.

To date, the TEF has invested more than $565 million and closed the deal on projects generating nearly 76,000 jobs and more than $24 billion in capital investment in the state.