You probably heard the news this weekend about the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket liftoff. It was the third mission testing Elon Musk’s investment in space technology. After running a series of tests on the Dragon capsule it was maneuvered to within 30ft of the International Space Station and captured with the ISS’s robotic arm (yes, Diane, the Canadarm2).
The NASA commentary on the event was probably an understatement of the feelings involved.
Station, Houston, congratulations on a wonderful capture. You’ve made a lot of folk happy down here and over in Hawthorne and right here in Houston. Great job, guys.
Those people in Huston and Hawthorne had something to party about that night. At 250 miles up and traveling at 17,000 mph the ISS isn’t the easiest thing to pay a visit.
Elon Musk may have invested in the Falcon/Dragon development, but much of the money came from NASA and government grants. Ignoring the fact that NASA screwed up its replacement for the shuttle, it argues the time has come for transport to low earth orbit to be handed over to the private sector. They cite the impassioned argument that the discovery of America was sponsored by government, but it was commercial companies that really took over the task.
They might be right, but what do you think? Will SpaceX’s historic achievement herald a new ear of space exploration, or will this simply migrate knowledge from NASA to private industry with little overall gain?
(Images courtesy of Wikipedia)