Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Air & Space on SpaceX

Air & Space magazine, a publication of the Smithsonian, has a lengthy article on SpaceX.

After nearly a decade of struggling to reach this point, Musk isn’t about to reveal the finer details of how he and his privately held company have created the Falcon and Dragon. They don’t even file patents, Musk says, because “we try not to provide a recipe by which China can copy us and we find our inventions coming right back at us.” But he talks freely about SpaceX’s approach to rocket design, which stems from one core principle: Simplicity enables both reliability and low cost. Think of cars, Musk says. “Is a Ferrari more reliable than a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic?”

Elsewhere, Florida Today reports that SpaceX completed a milestone in development of the next Dragon capsule scheduled to launch in January.

At its Launch Complex 40 hangar at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, crews mated a Dragon capsule to a "trunk" that holds solar arrays and thermal radiators and provides room for unpressurized cargo.

Solar arrays weren't flown on the Dragon's first trip to orbit last December, which lasted just a couple of laps around the planet before a successful re-entry.

The next flight, planned early next year, will be much longer and require more advanced flight systems, taking the unmanned Dragon close to the International Space Station and hopefully berthing at the outpost.

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