Space.com just published a new NASA image . . . the picture of a tiny dot whose name is “Dragon.”
That little dot at the edge of the earth thrills a lot of us, folks who are in the space business, or are mere “space junkies” like me. It was a historic event according to the story:
The unmanned vehicle, called Dragon, is built by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), and is the first commercial spacecraft ever launched toward the space station. During the rendezvous, the spacecraft approached within 1.6 miles (2.5 km) of the outpost. Dragon launched to orbit from Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday (May 22) atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and is due to arrive at the station on Friday (May 25).
This vehicle is a milestone, the first commercial cargo carrier to make it to the International Space Station (ISS). And that is a very big deal for several reasons.
- We are in an era of very tight budgetary times for the space program.
- NASA can no longer carry the entire financial load of the U.S. space program. In order to progress beyond low earth orbit, part of it needed to be spun off to the private sector.
- If Congress has been willing to attack the social safety net, legislators will surely disagree on space spending levels.
- For far too long, the United States has lacked its own way to transport items to the station, though we have excellent international cooperation within the ISS effort.
- International cooperation is essential to the success of big space projects, just as public –private partnerships have become essential.
- ISS is the premier scientific research platform for a whole host of space related projects.
You may also want to visit the site to view a photo series featuring the Space Station’s robotic fleet, of which Dragon is the latest. Space.com also lists the five most promising of the private spaceships.