Things that make America Cool - SpaceX
SpaceX is in the news again, this time with a make-or-break launch to the International Space Station. Politics aside, if this launch succeeds, it will usher in a new era of American low earth orbit space exploration.
Rephrased, it ushers in me saying "Nanny nanny boo boo" to all the Space Shuttle naysayers - because many people said "the end of the Space Shuttle Program was the end of the American space program." Obviously, not.
If you've not heard of SpaceX - otherwise known as the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation - it is an American business created in 2002 by Elon Musk (former PayPal entrepreneur, according to Wikipedia) - and is one of the companies working with NASA to create a capitalistic civilian-corporation space program in these austere times.
SpaceX recently launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon spacecraft that, in turn, carried a thousand or so pounds of prioritized cargo for the Space Lab portion of the International Space Station. Interestingly, the Dragon capsule is designed to transport cargo or astronauts - so, I wonder when the first civilian astronaut will launch to the Space Station?
I'll need to do some research to nail down the definitions, but it's already fairly easy to see the differences between government astronauts (which are often military folk), civilian astronauts, and space tourists, aye.
Some of the other interesting footnotes to this launch and SpaceX in general include:
- Beam me up, Scotty" The ashes for James Doohan, who portrayed Scottish engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in the original Star Trek television show were launched into space by the SpaceX Falcon9 rocket. Wild, huh?
- Only a very few governments have developed the capability to competently launch rockets and cargo to supply the International Space Station. So the old comparison about "Google's GDP being the same size as Iran's GDP," for example, could also be used to compare the capability of capitalism to further generate space exploration scenarios as described above, with respect to North Korea's recent failed "satellite" launch (which was probably an ICBM test in disguise, anyway). In other words, capitalism/democracy works. Communism does not, as it literally starves its citizens to no good end. Win-win versus lose-lose, get it?
- And, NASA - the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration - will continue it's voyages "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before." (Sorry, fair use,had to throw that in there.) Essentially to go into outer space - beyond high earth orbit. Plus, all the other relatively recent mission-statement stuff, "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research" (Wikipedia).
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