Liftoff of SpaceX’s CRS-17 Dragon Cargo Craft


A cool image as space exploration marches onward. ~ctm

May 6, 2019


SpaceX’s Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday, May 4, with more than 5,500 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the International Space Station. On Monday, May 6, while the station was traveling over the north Atlantic Ocean, astronauts David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Nick Hague of NASA grappled Dragon at 7:01 a.m. EDT using the space station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.

Image Credit: SpaceX

Last Updated: May 6, 2019

Editor: Yvette Smith

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Javert Chip
May 12, 2019 5:15 pm

I live about 30 miles south of the launch. The only thing more exciting that the launch is the booster recovery.

That, and during launch around 2:45a, my sprinklers came on while I was in the front yard.

Reply to  Javert Chip
May 12, 2019 6:57 pm

Javert Chip

I live about 10 miles SW of the launch site. Agreed the booster landings are pretty cool. It’s nice to hear the sonic booms on the Space Coast again.

Reply to  Rotor
May 12, 2019 9:20 pm

The “unscheduled rapid disassembly ” must have been pretty cool to witness too. Did that set your sprinklers off?

Glad they managed to deliver the groceries OK this time.

Luckily the Russians are still “interfering” with the international space station program and getting crew members back and forth with their soviet era junk.

I love the parochial way the NASA PR forgets to mention Commander Oleg Kononenko on board and that both the Canadian and Japanese robot arms were used in swapping the payloads.

Reply to  Javert Chip
May 13, 2019 5:48 am


May 12, 2019 5:32 pm

For 50 years we Americans have been told that our taxes were necessary to explore space.

R Percifield
Reply to  damp
May 12, 2019 6:29 pm

Unfortunately, our taxes did pay for this launch. But at least a private company made it happen.

Reply to  R Percifield
May 12, 2019 7:15 pm

Private companies have always made it happen. NASA has never had more than a supervisory role in launch operations. NASA builds no Launch Vehicles, no Spacecraft, runs no Launch Infrastructure. It is all done by private contractors. NASA calls the shots and pays the bills.

Scott W Bennett
Reply to  damp
May 12, 2019 7:04 pm

They still are! SpaceX is publicly funded!

1. SpaceX is a taxpayer-reliant business. 85% of SpaceX contracts are from the U.S. government.
2. Musk invested roughly $100 million of his own money in SpaceX, while NASA and U.S. Air Force allocated at least $5.5 billion to SpaceX. To put this in perspective, SpaceX’s annual budget is $800 to $900 million.
3. SpaceX also benefits directly from considerable government subsidies beyond and above contracts. For example, It received more than $15 million in subsidies to build a launch pad in Texas. Local governments contributed an additional $5 million. Included in the local subsidies is a 15-year property tax break from the local school district worth $3.1 million to SpaceX.

So, taxes are necessary to explore space and to make a narrow elite richer and richer!

Reply to  Scott W Bennett
May 12, 2019 11:17 pm

SpaceX launched 20 rockets last year, 13 were non US government payloads [ commerical payload and other government satellites]. Three were ISS resupply and 2 were US military related and 2 were NASA satellites which are basically like commercial or other government satellite- they could bought the launch from any launch company and they selected SpaceX for their satellite launch.
Or about 75% of business not part of program of buying series of future launches. as compared to your claim of “85% of SpaceX contracts are from the U.S. government”
But US military has to buy launches from US launch companies, and if NASA couldn’t get american launch companies for resupply. they would mostly buy from Russia. As NASA currently still buy crew launches from Russia at +$70 million per seat. And basically NASA subsidies, European, Japanese and Russian efforts related to ISS plus a lot other American companies other than SpaceX.

Scott W Bennett
Reply to  gbaikie
May 13, 2019 1:45 am

Those satellite were a separate $290 million deal for launches to 2020. But all this money comes out of the public purse – foreign or otherwise. The point is, the public pays for space exploration, while private interests reap all the benefits. And those private “parties” will not hesitate to charge you again for anything discovered or of value to the general public!

It is an absolute boondoggle! The space / military industrial complex in transparently corrupt and the public – that means all of us – are too domesticated and dumbed down to see it!

Musk’s deal is the equivalent of buying a business for $100,000 and the government then giving you 5.5 million dollars worth of business just to start off! And that is the deal of the century! The Falcon rocket would not have existed without it. If you can’t see that, then you can’t see anything at all!

The big money in the world is public money and nobody gains the ability to send payloads to orbit without spending large amounts of it! Let’s see a private company make money from space exploration, without public finance and then I’ll agree with you.

And now SpaceX has some “commercial” customers but looking closely at them, they are – for the most part – either foreign governments or their contractors. Clearly, some are commercial telcos but their business alone could not support the existence of SpaceX. SpaceX is a US government creation, designed to compete with publicly funded and/or subsidised agencies such as those of China, Russia India and Europe etc.

Reply to  Scott W Bennett
May 13, 2019 7:36 am

Yes. And your point is?

John Peter
Reply to  Scott W Bennett
May 13, 2019 8:03 am

But Space X was first company to retrieve boosters? Would the public sector do that kind of innovation? I am not a Musk fan, but what he touches seem to have some unique innovation in it. Right? So he gets rewards and put some of it at risk again. Right? So he gets business from organisations awarded tax money because his innovations create a competitive advantage. Right?

Anna Keppa
Reply to  Scott W Bennett
May 13, 2019 10:12 am

I read your comments and I say…so what? If public money is not to be used for development of spacecraft, delivery systems and necessary infrastructure, who will fund it?

Very few people (e.g. Musk and Bezos) have the deep pockets to fund such massive projects, and very few private organizations will have enough members willing to pony up the cash for potential long-term gain.

And would you object to the latter? Seems to me your comment about making a narrow elite richer and richer indicates you envy the wealthy just for being so.

But if it’s just a private-gain and public-loss scenario that bothers you, just what would YOU do to foster R&D for such projects? Crowdsourcing? GoFundMe?

Reply to  Scott W Bennett
May 13, 2019 9:54 pm

“The point is, the public pays for space exploration, while private interests reap all the benefits. And those private “parties” will not hesitate to charge you again for anything discovered or of value to the general public!”

NASA budget is about 20 billion per year.
Global satellite market is about 300 billion per year.
Most of the global satellite market is not space exploration.
Most of cost of space exploration is not the cost of the rocket launch.
Say, Mars rover curiosity program. I would guess about 1/4 of total program costs is the cost to launch cost.
Likewise the cost launching rockets for the entire global satellite market is small fraction of total costs of getting and having satellites in orbit.
NASA is spending a lot of money developing SLS.
It about 2 billion per year and NASA has been spending about 2 billion dollar for this development per year for more than decade.
SLS is what I like to call, NASA trying to be a rocket launch company- and failing badly.
If NASA ever launches SLS, it probably will be largest rocket.
Assuming SpaceX has not made BFR or Blue Origin has not made it’s planned New Glenn rocket, first.
SLS was originally planned to have first launch by 2017 and probably take another 4 years before it will have first launch.
NASA is spending more money per year developing SLS than amount money paid to launch american rockets- more money not flying SLS compared to all money spent on american rocket launches.
But NASA is using american rocket companies to make SLS, and one call that money spent on ” the space / military industrial complex” and it is “an absolute boondoggle!”
Some call it the Senate Launch System.

But SpaceX has nothing to do with SLS.

Reply to  Scott W Bennett
May 13, 2019 10:30 pm

–The big money in the world is public money and nobody gains the ability to send payloads to orbit without spending large amounts of it! Let’s see a private company make money from space exploration, without public finance and then I’ll agree with you.–

A private company needs people to buy a product. Would you pay for space exploration when [if you are American] you are already paying your part of NASA’s 20 billion dollar budget per year for that agency to explore space?
The flyby of Pluto, did not cost you much. The Parker Solar probe also didn’t cost you much, nor did Mars Curiosity rover. And that is the kind of stuff, I would call space exploration.

SpaceX sent a electric car around a mars- earth trajectory, for “free”.
[The Heavy Falcon rocket test and/or stunt.}

Some have wondered whether private companies could sell pay for view type stuff- but it’s harder than it sounds.
Some are trying to make suborbital commercial travel work.
But the only thing really important at the moment is the global satellite market.

If some space agency would explore the lunar poles, then that could lead to an important market.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  damp
May 12, 2019 8:53 pm


Apollo 11 was just under 50 years ago, so… are you sure that is the number you want to be using? 🙂

Also this entire publicity about ‘private space’ is just people like Musk being creative with the truth. Space will be private on a grand scale when private industry starts putting things into space in a grand scale AND turning a profit from it.

Look at it this way for comparison. Who makes tanks? GDLS, BAE, KMW et al. Privately owned companies.

Who operate Armoured battalions? Government owned armies.

The Industrial side of the complex may design, build and even maintain military platforms, but they are used and controlled by governments. Warfare is not private. Space is (currently) the same, no matter who builds those big impressive rockets.

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  damp
May 13, 2019 7:00 pm

Before I comment on this, let me state my credentials (such as they are). I’m currently the Chief Engineer of the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), the federal office that licenses all commercial launch and reentries, and all commercial spaceports. Here, I speak as a private citizen. In a previous life, I was one of the 1990s space launch entrepreneurs. I founded Kelly Space & Technology, Inc. in 1993, though I left there in 2003. I know Elon Musk, and have a great deal of respect for him on many, many levels. In fact, the fly-back booster was something NASA “studied” for decades, and never could bring themselves to try it. For my own part, I was skeptical that it would work. But I was delighted when it did.

He has put more of his own money into SpaceX than people recognize, and has done more on NASA contract with less money than any other contractor in NASA history. Compare the Boeing Starliner, and its huge budget, with the Crewed Dragon and its much smaller budget. Elon has come a great deal closer to a pure commercial model than anyone has ever. However, if you want to look at it in purist terms, Jeff Bezos has done more of a pure capitalist job of developing the New Shepard. I’ve spoken with Mr. Bezos about this, and he “gets it” in a way than few other rocket geeks do. And he’s funding the whole smash to the tune of $1 billion a year. He’s the Howard Hughes of space transportation, and I believe he will be the pure capitalist who pulls off something in the most purely commercial manner.

May 13, 2019 12:20 am

From Wikipedia: “NASA has contracted for the CRS-17 mission from SpaceX and therefore determines the primary payload, date/time of launch, and orbital parameters for the Dragon space capsule. According to a 2016 presentation, the external payloads manifested for this flights were Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) and STP-H6.[9]l.

(Used without permission).

Orbiting Carbon Observatory. Hmmmmm. Do they mean “Orbiting Carbon Dioxide Observatory”?

Another Paul
Reply to  Ken
May 13, 2019 9:53 am

“Orbiting Carbon Observatory. Hmmmmm. Do they mean “Orbiting Carbon Dioxide Observatory”?”

Maybe, unless it’s a spy satellite.

May 13, 2019 4:11 am

The Space Shuttle was a huge waste of money in my opinion. I feel the same about the ISS. Somebody please inform me of any significant achievements of either program. I’m willing to change my mind.

Reply to  Dave
May 13, 2019 9:00 am

At least the ISS has taught that long-term residence/travel in space is very problematic — radiation exposure, effects of weightlessness, etc. A sobering revelation.

michael hart
May 13, 2019 4:58 am

“SpaceX’s Dragon lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket…”

Built, powered, and sustained, with fossil fuels. No other way to do it.

May 13, 2019 8:18 am

Giant waste of money supporting the skilled subsidy farmer Mr. Elon. The ISS does absolutely nothing useful. They’ve run all the experiments they could come up with years ago. And most of them were just total silliness: what would it be if we do this and that without gravity.
Anyway, I can’t wait for when they try to go to the Moon indeed.

Reply to  colin
May 13, 2019 11:54 am

Have to agree. Manned space flight for scientific studies is stupid. A manned flight takes 10x the money of an unmanned flight.

Adrian Mann
May 13, 2019 4:29 pm

How depressingly predictable… FFS, give it up with the puerile, hackneyed, done-to-death “NASA/space/stuff-I-don’t-see-the-point-of” is a waste of time and money trope. The US spends more on cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, pet food, chewing gum or pornography than it puts into the NASA budget. And remember, all those tax payer dollars stay down here, on Earth. Unless you are of the opinion that before a rocket is launched, a crew shovels dollar bills into it which are then launched into space and lost forever. The money pays engineers and scientists, office workers, cleaners and the employees and of a huge network of suppliers and subsidiaries, and all the rest of the nameless, unknown thousands, supporting American families and communities, who buy stuff and pay taxes too, BTW.
I used to think the people here were well educated, well informed and could string a coherent line a thought together in the way that the vast majority can’t, and wouldn’t understand. Those people are still here, and it’s a joy to read, but there’s also the content-free white noise generated by a section of mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers who would frankly be better off with the other Flattards in the Flat Earth Society. Trump Good! Government Bad! Hulk Smash! FFS…
Here’s the bad news for y’all and the other residents of your trailer park – One-term-Trump, the human equivalent of the broken clock that is right twice a day, is already a lame duck, despite appearances. Everything he’s done will be undone, and quickly. He won’t get another term – even those righteous, Bible-bashing folks who regard him as demi-God may well baulk at supporting a man (and I use the term in it’s loosest possible sense) that would pay for one of his mistresses to have an abortion and then cover it up. Oh – not heard that one yet? You will.
The space programme will continue, and expand, as will the space programmes of other countries, whether you like it, understand it or not. Don’t like it? Tough tit. No-one cares about your opinion. Get pissed off with the stuff your government has been spending 10x, 100x the money spent on NASA that you know absolutely nothing about, and probably never will. Don’t be surprised when the next boot print on the surface of the Moon has ‘Made in China’ embossed on it, no matter who lands first. Perhaps they know something that you do not. Obviously they do, or they wouldn’t be doing it.
NB Michael Hart: Hydrogen – not a fossil fuel. UDMH – not a fossil fuel. Methane – not a fossil fuel. Aluminium powder, ammonium perchlorate – not fossil fuels. LOX – not a fuel at all, but an oxidiser. Which leaves RP1. Bravo.

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