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SpaceX successfully launches cargo Dragon to ISS

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched a cargo Dragon to ISS.

The first stage booster successfully landed on its drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

This Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule were entirely new, making their first flights. This was the first new Falcon 9 to fly since November 2020, with sixteen launches during that period using reused boosters exclusively.

In fact, since November 2020 SpaceX has completed a total of 21 launches, all done in less than seven months. Moreover, the company has scheduled 34 (!) more launches through the rest of the year. If they achieve this ambitious schedule, they will complete 51 launches in ’21, more than doubling their previous annual record of 25 set last year. With all other American companies added in, there will be a good chance the United States launch total could exceed 70, breaking the country’s own annual launch record set in 1966 at the height of the first space race.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

17 SpaceX
15 China
8 Russia
2 Rocket Lab
2 ULA

The U.S. now leads China 23 to 15 in the national rankings.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

5 comments

  • Klystron

    I wonder if Falcon has enough throw to get to ISS in just a couple of orbits, like the Russians have done with Progress and Soyuz in the past.. I assume such a mission would have to be done with an expendable booster.

    Any rocket scientists out there than can answer?

  • mkent

    I wonder if Falcon has enough throw to get to ISS in just a couple of orbits, like the Russians have done with Progress and Soyuz in the past.. I assume such a mission would have to be done with an expendable booster.

    It’s not a matter of “throw.” It’s a matter of phasing. All the thrust in the world won’t get you there any faster if the ISS isn’t where it needs to be when you launch.

  • Liked ” . . . first space race.”

  • Edward

    Klystron,
    It isn’t so much the ability of the launch vehicle as it is the methods used for the rendezvous. Note that the booster had enough leftover propellant to make a boost back burn to land closer to the coast than when they don’t do a boost back burn. That propellant could have been used for more throw. Also note that this launch occurred on time, so mkent’s phasing reference could have been closer to the ISS for a faster rendezvous. It was a conscious choice to have a day and a half approach.

    There may be a time in the future when these other spacecraft rendezvous faster. For now, they spend some amount of time in safer orbits, a bit farther away from the ISS.

  • Kyle

    This has been without west coast launches. They are prepping Vandenburg site for regular starlink. So long as Viasat does not succeed in blocking the next layer of Starlink cadence should increase even more.

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