The SpaceX Dragon has Docked with the ISSSpaceX has successfully docked the Dragon to the International Space Station! For the first time ever, a commercial company has managed not only to launch something into orbit, but dock it with something orbiting up there. This will usher in an era of cheaper, easier access to space, especially considering how much cheaper a Dragon launch is compared to other space launching technologies.
The Dragon was lofted up aboard a Falcon 9 launcher 3 days ago. In that time, it has been put through countless tests in an attempt to verify that the craft was in good enough condition to apporach the multi-billion dollar ISS. Earlier this morning, the craft made it approach and was captured by a Canadarm, the multipurpose manipulator used connect crafts to the station rather than let the crafts go in under full power.
While the Dragon hasn’t yet been launched manned, reaching this stage is a crucial step. It will go through several more years of testing as launches are used to verify that the vessel is sound. Then the Dragon will start ferrying human cargo to the ISS for a fraction the cost that the Russians are doing it.
For a cost comparison, launching a Falcon 9 costs $55 million. Tacking on a dragon probably boosts costs a fair bit more, so let’s assume that it doubles the cost of a launch. So $110 million to launch a manned dragon. Each Dragon can ferry 7 people to the ISS, so that works out to $15 million per person.
The Russian Soyuz we go up on right now costs $60 million. So even if we assume an incredible, likely overstated cost for a Dragon, we are still talking about a lift cost a fraction of what we have now.
The Falcon 9 is a medium lift launcher. It isn’t meant to be able to lift as much as the shuttle. That will be for the Falcon Heavy to do. But as it stands, the Falcon 9 is a much more efficient lift platform than anything else on the market at the moment.
SpaceX docked the Dragon to the ISS. They’re talking about launching commercial space stations into orbit. We have an entire company dedicated to asteroid mining.
Yeah, we’re living in the future.
Photo by : NASA