Saturday, February 20, 2010

Goodbye Shuttle, Hello Falcon

"New Commercial Rocket Ready to Do NASA's Heavy Lifting" (February 18, 2010)

"NASA's space shuttles are flying their final missions this year, but one commercial spaceflight company in California has a new, privately-built rocket standing ready to replace the aging workhorse.

"Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) new Falcon 9 rocket is already assembled in Cape Canaveral, Fla. for a debut in the first half of 2010. A following flight, sometime between May and November, would launch the cargo-carrying Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station.

"Dragon could also eventually loft NASA astronauts into space by as early as 2014. Just don't call it a taxi service, said Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX. The company, founded by PayPal entrepreneur Elon Musk, has already launched satellites to orbit on its smaller, unmanned Falcon 1 rockets...."

I've followed the American space program since the Mercury days, and admit to feeling a little nostalgia about the end of government-funded human spaceflight technologies in this country. But only a little.

It looks like America's government is going to let America's private sector go ahead with commercial spaceships. In the long run, I think we'll all come out ahead on this. Sure there will be problems. We're all human beings, and one thing we're good at is messing things up. But we're also good at getting things done.

As I've written before, I think there's an advantage to letting people get things done - when they've got an incentive to get it done on schedule, and on or under budget. And, of course, that won't sit well with everybody. (In the Future - People will be People)

Related posts:More:Background:"International Space Station Tour (Part I)"

NASAtelevision, YouTube (January 21, 2009)
video, 9:44

"Astronaut Mike Fincke takes you on a tour of the International Space Station."

More, on YouTube:

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