May 22, 2012
SpaceX Finally Finds Success With Tuesday’s Launch
Lee Rannals for RedOrbit.com
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It was a moment of triumph for everyone watching as the Falcon 9 rocket lit up the night sky, like a roaring fire racing out of Satan's corridor trying to catch a closing window into the heavens, bridging commercialized space industry with the Godfather of space flight.
The Dragon capsule began its journey towards the International Space Station at 3:44am Eastern Tuesday morning, lifting off from Cape Canaveral after having been delayed for weeks from its originally planned departure and aborted at the last second on Saturday's attempt.
The atmosphere prior to the launch was brilliant last Saturday as officials and media members checked weather forecasts minute-by-minute to ensure the lift-off would be taking place.
Although it was early in the morning, both young and old stood in line waiting for the bus at Kennedy Space Center with a hitch in their step, knowing they were about to witness something truly amazing.
However, the long wait became even longer as the launch countdown went to zero with no lift off. Disappointment grew deep across the onlookers´ faces as they realized SpaceX had aborted the highly anticipated mission. Those anxious about the launch had to wait just a little bit longer for the historical moment to finally ensue.
Tuesday, the Falcon rocket sat gloriously, once again, on a launch pad that has seen its historic moments. It was poised proudly towards the early morning sky, ready to pierce through the atmosphere and send the Dragon capsule leaping towards the space station.
As the rocket engines began to churn, a rush of excitement began and everyone held their breath once history began to play out in front of the world.
The launch marks the beginning of a new era in America's history, kick-starting modern space travel, and making a statement for a nation that stands tall as the backbone of space travel.
The Dragon capsule is helping turn the page to this new chapter by bringing supplies to astronauts aboard the space station. It brings with it into space both food and clothes, as well as several science experiments to test the effects of zero gravity on various projects.
The Dragon capsule also carried the ashes of James Doohan, the famous actor who portrayed engineer "Scotty" in Star Trek, along with the remains of 308 other people. The ashes, jettisoned 9 minutes after launch, will orbit the Earth for a year and then disintegrate on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
The SpaceX capsule will be arriving at the space station on Friday and will undergo a series of test before it is given the go-ahead to dock with the orbiting post.
The feat may not seem so heroic to some, but it is a stepping stone into what the future of space flight could hold for NASA astronauts.
SpaceX's capsule is capable of transforming from a cargo ship into a spacecraft that carries astronauts from our Earth into space, so it could eventually be turned into the next form of travel for U.S. astronauts.
NASA currently relies on Russia to ferry its astronauts to and from the space station, but if all goes according to plan during this mission, we could be watching America's dependence on Roscosmos for space travel dwindle.
A successful mission would also see that SpaceX enters into a $1.6 billion contract from the U.S. space agency for a dozen cargo flights to the space station.
As history books continue to document this new path for our country's foothold in the space industry, let´s hope commercialized space travel will be what bridges man to a new dawn of pioneering.
Following Tuesday's launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, issued the following statement:
"Congratulations to the teams at SpaceX and NASA for this morning's successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting because it represents the potential of a new era in American spaceflight. Partnering with U.S. companies such as SpaceX to provide cargo and eventually crew service to the International Space Station is a cornerstone of the president's plan for maintaining America's leadership in space. This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA's resources to do what NASA does best -- tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human space flight beyond low Earth orbit. I could not be more proud of our NASA and SpaceX scientists and engineers, and I look forward to following this and many more missions like it."