At 3:44 a.m E.T. this morning, May 22 2012, SpaceX launched its unmanned cargo capsule, the Dragon C2, carried by their rocket, the Falcon 9, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. This remarkable event will forever be marked as the first time a private company had sent a spacecraft into space. It is expected that it should reach the Space Station, if there is no trouble and it passes the tests to be able to dock onto the Station, by this Friday.
With NASA’s shuttle program having been retired for almost a year now, they had been looking to outsource their missions into space to private companies with the hope that they would be able to bring cargo and astronauts into space. NASA found a good contender in SpaceX, founded by South African born American inventor and engineer Elon Musk, and their successful launch of the Falcon 9 seems to solidify their choice. SpaceX received a $1.6 billion contract from NASA to bring cargo up to the Space Station in 12 flights, with this current mission being the test flight. If the Dragon capsule is successful, SpaceX will start working on their contract for NASA, with the option to order additional missions to bring them to a total contract value of $3.1 billion.
This Dragon capsule, while it is being used only for cargo on this trip, has the capacity to carry seven passengers. It is no secret that Musk had created this capsule so that in the future, he could also contribute his capsules to take up astronauts to the space stations. The capsule is reusable, so that when it comes back down to Earth, it will be possible for SpaceX and NASA to re-stock it with cargo and astronauts and send it back up into space whenever it is needed.
With this successful launch, and hopefully successful docking, the Dragon will be come the first spacecraft made by a U.S. company that will be heading to the Space Station since the space shuttles started flying 30 years ago.
Below is a clip from CBS News of their news story on the new achievement by the private sector of space engineering. For more information, go to SpaceX’s website where they outline many of the schematics and dimensions as well as the power of their rockets and capsules.
As you watch this clip think of the megatrend we have long discussed, the trend towards the consumerization of IT. Are we witnessing the same trend here? Is this a manifestation of the consumerization of space?
- SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon Rocket Finally Blasts off to ISS (VIDEO) (blippitt.com)
- Video: After Delays, SpaceX Commercial Spacecraft Headed to Space Station (usnews.com)
- A milestone mission: SpaceX Dragon capsule, first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station (ceoworld.biz)
- SpaceX makes historic launch to space station (space-travel.com)
- SpaceX launches rocket to space station (clickorlando.com)
Really amazing stuff