Nine months is a long time; it’s long enough to have a baby. It’s also long enough for the Tesla Roadster and its Starman passenger to have traveled from the Earth orbit it was initially placed in, to beyond the orbit of Mars.
To be honest, I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to Elon Musk’s “big ideas.” Sure it’s cool that he’s made some insanely fast electric cars at Tesla, but the cars have suffered from lots of reliability and build quality issues.
I have talked before about SpaceX and its woes in trying to land the first stage of one of its Falcon 9 rockets. The company has been trying to land the first stage successfully to try to make space flight cheaper and more attainable to anyone interested.
Late last week, I talked a bit about SpaceX and why it was trying to land the first stage of its rocket on a drone ship in the Pacific. SpaceX planned the third attempt at landing the rocket over the weekend, but things didn’t go to plan.
Elon Musk is a seriously cool dude. Not only does he lead Tesla in making some of the coolest EVs on the market, he is also at the helm of SpaceX, and has lots of success with sending capsules of supplies to the ISS.
SpaceX has never been shy about offering up HD video of both its successes and failures. One of my favorite SpaceX videos is the one of the rocket exploding while trying to land. SpaceX has offered up a new video that lacks explosions, but is very beautiful and serene instead.
Elon Musk and SpaceX have some very ambitious plans that involve reusing the lower stages of its rockets to save money and make putting cargo and people into space cheaper. The plan involves having the first stage of the rocket softly land on a floating drone ship in the ocean.
Reusable spacecraft have been a mainstay of space exploration for decades thanks to the now retired Space Shuttle program. Before the Shuttle, the rocket engines used in the Apollo era were typically left to sink into the ocean.
Private manufacturer SpaceX recently unveiled the updated version of its Dragon spacecraft. The Dragon V2 has a number of improvements, but the company is particularly proud of its ability to “land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter”, thanks to its SuperDraco engines.
We’ve already invented a (partially) reusable spacecraft. But the rockets that were used to boost NASA’s space shuttles – and other spacecraft in general – were all designed for one-time use only. That makes space travel wasteful and expensive.
I’ve mentioned a couple times that SpaceX was set to become the first company to send a private spacecraft to dock with the ISS. Despite several delays, all went well for SpaceX with its launch, and this weekend the company’s Dragon cargo vessel successfully docked with the International Space Station.
After another delay, SpaceX finally got off the ground today with its Falcon 9 rocket lifting off early this morning and making it into orbit safely. The main mission for SpaceX is to demonstrate its Dragon space capsule and hopefully dock with the ISS.
After multiple delays, SpaceX is set to hit a major milestone this Saturday, May 19. Saturday is the day set for the launch of the first privately funded cargo mission to the International Space Station. With the Space Shuttle fleet retired, these commercial space missions are one of the only ways to get cargo to and from the ISS.
Next month is an important month for the NASA space program. It will mark the first visit of a commercial spacecraft to the International Space Station in history. With the Shuttle fleet retired, most of the supplies and visits to the ISS have been performed using Russian spacecraft.