Sunday, September 29, 2013

Space - The Busy Frontier

First, what's going on in space. The Cygnus module from Orbital Sciences Corp docked at the International Space Station with 600kg of supplies.  This makes it the second vehicle, after SpaceX's Dragon, to dock there.  One more step for free enterprise.

Then, what's going into space.  SpaceX's new medium-lift booster, the Falcon 1.1, made a successful first flight.  Congratulations to Elon, Gwynne, and the gang! SpaceX hopes to provide serious competition to Atlas and Delta for US government payloads, as well as expanding into the commercial market.  This is a huge step forward.  SpaceX's Grasshopper test vehicle, meanwhile, has made big strides showing it might really be possible to bring a rocket stage back and land it vertically.  I wasn't sure even this crew could solve that problem, but maybe they can.  Elon Musk think's it's a key to cutting costs for future launches. 

Carl Sagan once observed that the dinosaurs went extinct because they didn't have a space program (okay, though I'm trying to picture T. rex with those little arms in a space capsule....)  but we can MAKE dinosaurs in space. Astronaut Karen Nyberg has sewn the first toy ever made on the ISS: a stuffed dinosaur. Now, can she make the space suit?

It's a great day for our exploration of the universe.  Yes, we need to save the Earth.  It's our launching pad.  And from here, the stars...

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