Range Tracking

Do not pet the Dragon

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Photos of the first SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) that was on display over the weekend at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
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A whimsical sign warns visitors to keep away from the well-guarded spacecraft. Note the charred heat shield above the sign.
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The large opening in the back contained the parachutes that opened from harnesses that deployed from the arcing tracks along the sides. This Dragon landed in the Pacific Ocean off of Baja California.
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The front of the spacecraft reveals a small access door to the interior of the craft. The large unseen hatch on the top of the spacecraft is used to move cargo in and out when docked to the ISS. The technical overview for Dragon states it can carry up to 13,228 pounds into orbit and return to Earth with 6,614 pounds.
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This Dragon, the second manufactured by SpaceX, delivered cargo to the ISS in May 2012.
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Note the scorch marks from its fiery return from orbit along with the charred heat shield along the bottom of the craft. The track descending down into the opening is all part of the parachute harness assembly. The other small oval openings are all rocket thrusters for maneuvering Dragon while in space. SpaceX hopes to one day launch people into space aboard Dragon spacecraft carried aloft on their Falcon 9 rockets.
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View my images from the 22 May 2012 fiery night launch of the Falcon 9 carrying this Dragon to ISS.

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