Watching the splashdown of the first manned Dragon capsule

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

Capitalism in space: NASA yesterday released its broadcast schedule for watching the undocking from ISS and the splashdown of SpaceX’s first manned Dragon capsule, carrying two American astronauts.

The schedule includes preliminary press conferences, the undocking, the splashdown, and the post-recovery press conference, all centered around the planned August 2nd return.


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  • Brent

    What a great site, I visit at least once a day.

    I do have a minor quibble, though…Dragon is a *spacecraft* and not a *capsule*. A primitive one, to be sure, but it’s a step, and I’d hate to see the misnomer get permanently attached to its undoubtedly more capable successors.

    Again, this is a truly outstanding site, thanks for all the hard work.

  • Brent: Sorry, but it is a capsule, similar in concept to Mercury, Soyuz, Gemini, and Apollo.

    You will note that I will never call Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser mini-shuttles a capsule. Nor the X-37B. Nor Starship. There is a difference and it is profound.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Is there a hardened definition of “Spacecraft” or Space Vessel”?

    I would think a capsule would fall into a sub category.

    This is all semantics I would think.

  • Edward

    Traditionally, the portion of the spacecraft that comes free of the rest of the spacecraft in order to make a safe reentry is called a capsule. Sometimes they are manned, sometimes they return samples. On the Corona spacecraft they returned film.

    space cap·sule | ˈspās ˌkapsəl, ˈspās ˌkaps(y)o͝ol |
    a small spacecraft or the part of a larger one that contains the instruments or crew.

    See also:
    5. Also called space capsule. Aerospace. a sealed cabin, container, or vehicle in which a person or animal can ride in flight in space or at very high altitudes within the earth’s atmosphere.

    For Dragon, the spacecraft includes the manned portion as well as the Trunk portion, which burns up during reentry. However, SpaceX calls the return capsule a spacecraft:

    The Dragon spacecraft is equipped with two drogue parachutes to stabilize the spacecraft following reentry and four main parachutes to further decelerate the spacecraft prior to landing.

    Common features of space capsules are that they make their final descent on parachutes after a ballistic reentry and have little or no control over their final landing location. Would Robert have called Crew Dragon a capsule or a spacecraft had NASA supported the company’s plan for a powered landing, without parachutes, to a specific landing pad?

    The Dream Chaser, the Shuttle Orbiter, (the future) Starliner, and the X-37 have controlled reentry, descent, and landing to specific locations, such as a runway or pad. It is clear that this type of reentry spacecraft is preferred over the capsule type.

    Many national space agencies and commercial companies chose to start their manned space programs using capsules, as they are relatively easy and quick to implement. Sierra Nevada chose to begin with a reusable lifting-body spacecraft that lands on a runway. Good for them, but that choice may have lost them a position on phase 1 of the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) flights. Dream Chaser was selected for phase 2 of CRS. Good for NASA.

  • pzatchok

    If its just a can then its a capsule.

    If its more, then its anything else you want to call it. Ship, vessel, craft or plane.

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