Dragon Docks At ISS In First For Commercial Space Flight
by: Carrie Feibel, May 26, 2012 12:05:00 am
A little before noon, astronauts on the station used a robotic arm to dock the Dragon capsule.
Tomorrow, they’ll open the hatch and check inside.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk says that human beings are now one step closer to being a multi-planet species:
“There’s so much that could have gone wrong and it went right and we were able to overcome some last minute issues with some fast thinking, and got it there. And this really is going to be recognized as a significant historical step forward in space travel.”
SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for a series of cargo flights.
It also has private customers who want to send satellites into space.
Musk says that his company now needs to focus on making its rockets reusable.
“The cost of the fuel is only .3 percent of the cost of the mission, so if rockets can be made reusable then it’s possible to reduce the cost of space flight maybe by a factor of a hundred or more.”
Larry Bell oversees the Space Architecture program at the University of Houston.
He says the celebrations are justified, but the future of private space travel is not assured.
For one thing, the private companies are still dependent on government contracts for some of their revenue.
“Space is a very expensive hobby and it’s a very high-risk business if you want to look at it that way. Whether we can make the numbers work and find something really to go for, I think the key thing is going to be: keep the government space programs going and use those to nurture and support the commercial sector, I don’t think it’s an either/or.”
The astronauts will start unloading the cargo on Monday.
From the KUHF Health and Science Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.
Dragon Grappled and Berthed to Station
The SpaceX Dragon capsule is grappled and berthed to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station's Harmony module at 12:02 p.m. EDT, May 25, 2012.
Reaction in Mission Control to successful grapple by the ISS