Dragon Launch

I’ve fallen way behind on my goal of writing at least two blog posts per week, but I’m going to try to catch up. This mornings launch of the Dragon capsule gives me an excellent opportunity to talk about one of my favorite subjects: space!

The Dragon capsule will be the first commercial mission to attempt to visit and dock with the International Space Station. The Dragon capsule will have to pass a lot of tests in the next couple days, before it will be allowed to attempt to approach the ISS on Friday. Assuming all of those tests go well, SpaceX will be the first non government agency to successfully reach and dock with the ISS. That will be a remarkable achievement for SpaceX and a watershed moment for commercial space travel in general.

Some of the cargo being delivered includes student science projects, from the Students Spaceflight Experiment Program, a great program to help get kids interested in science. I think this is a fantastic program and it’s great that Dragon capsule will be able to help continue it! It’s poetic in a way, while the Dragon is ushering in a new era of space flight, it’s also helping the next generation of scientists and explorers who will hopefully push the boundaries even further!

This launch is important for many reasons, it’s the first step in private companies being able to resupply the ISS, and eventually send astronauts back and forth. SpaceX actually plans to begin sending astronauts into orbit as early as 2015, another ambitious goal! It’s also a very important step in significantly driving down the costs of low earth orbit launches, a vital step in establishing a more permanent presence in space.

It will also eventually free NASA from the “routine” duties of low earth orbit space travel, allowing them to focus on pushing the space frontier with bigger and more ambitious missions. Speaking of NASA, I think it’s important to point out just how critical they were in the success of SpaceX. There has been some talk of how much better SpaceX is, because they can do what NASA has been doing for so long at a much, much cheaper price. This issue is not as simple as that, SpaceX is able to do what they do because NASA has already done it, assumed the risks, and solved these problems. SpaceX is building on the foundation that NASA has put in place, not to mention receiving tremendous support from NASA over the years.

As a quick aside, it is so important for the government to continue to invest in science, it makes success like this possible! The economy of the future will be driven by science and technology, and we can’t invest enough money in these areas. Government agencies like NASA, NSF, NOAA, etc are woefully underfunded, this only hurts us in the future. However, that is the subject of another blog post.

Finally, I love seeing the vision and passion that the people behind SpaceX have, it’s refreshing to see people thinking big and accomplishing so much. This is just the first step though, SpaceX has many ambitious goals, from taking astronauts into orbit, to building a rocket capable of both vertical take offs and landing, to eventual missions to Mars! This is all coming from a private company, led by people who aren’t afraid to think big and continue to push the frontiers of space! You can feel the excitement of the people working there in everything they do, here’s a video of mission control during the launch:

Another great moment is the deployment of the solar arrays, listen to the reaction from the crew at SpaceX! Congratulations to NASA and SpaceX, and thanks for helping bring is all a little closer to the future!

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