Tuesday marked the end of a historical era for spaceflight, but also marked the beginning of an era for more exciting and possibly further reaching than we’ve ever seen in history. A company known as SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation launched a Falcon 9 rocket into space carrying an unmanned capsule known as Dragon from the Cape Canaveral launch pad normally used by NASA. While it may not be the first time that a company has launched a ship into space, it is the first time that one has launched one for the purpose of docking or even partnering with NASA to allow the companies to take over the funding of space exploration.
SpaceX has a long way to go before they work out an even more elaborate partnership with NASA, but Falcon 9 is the first major step in accomplishing anything, now that NASA’s space shuttle program has finally been put to rest. The next step for Falcon 9 is to get the Dragon capsule within about 1.5 miles of the permanently manned space station. From there, the International Space Station will work to pull it in with the help of a robotic arm. If all goes well, SpaceX will be hailed as a pioneer, as the shuttles of NASA were becoming old by today’s standards. Modern technology is going to play a vital role in the success of any company’s private efforts to launch manned shuttles into space.
We’re not going to be colonizing the moon anytime soon, but SpaceX’s efforts thus far have gone far beyond that of other private companies. The only have “up” to go from here (no pun intended). While this is exciting news, it also should leave people to at least be a little bit skeptical. Since the private company has never done anything like this before, it is as just a new world as it would be to the average person. It is expected that mistakes should and would be made, and there is the loss for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.
The International Space Station is expected to grab the Dragon capsule on Friday. So far, everything has gone according to plan, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled on the news as space sites and private investors alike will have a close eye on the play-by-play that rolls out. Regardless, SpaceX has already considered themselves successful in achieving what so many private companies are still working towards.