The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 : NASA

History was made this morning (May 22) at 3:44 am when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rumbled into space carrying the Dragon capsule toward its rendezvous on Friday with the International Space Station. This is a historic mission as Falcon 9 and Dragon are the first commercial rocket and capsule to make this attempt.

In the next few days, if all goes well, the Dragon capsule will close on the ISS, make several maneuvers to prove its ability to move in close to the station safely, receive the okay to approach, and be snagged by the ISS robotic arm for docking. The capsule will be unloaded (1000 pounds of clothes, food, and student science experiments) and then filled with finished experiments and equipment for the first ever return to earth for reuse. No other automated cargo module (from other government space agencies) is capable of this feat.

This may begin a new era of spaceflight for the United States. Good luck to the whole SpaceX/NASA team.

If you are interested, you can see a 15 minute film of this flight at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch53huvkmKw

Update 5/24/12: Tonight at around 11:55 pm, the Dragon capsule will pull within 2 1/2 km of the ISS for the first time. If all goes well, Friday NASA will give SpaceX the go ahead to approach close enough for the ISS crew to reach out and retrieve the capsule for docking. This brings us a small step closer to the future of 2001: A Space Odyssey in which Pan Am shuttles took passengers to awaiting orbiting stations on the way to destinations on the Moon and elsewhere. (I wonder if a commercial enterprise ran the giant rotating space station as well?)

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