Rocket for First Private Docking with ISS AssembledWe’re getting close to the launch of the first commercial space craft to dock with the International Space Station, which will make SpaceX not only the first private company to launch to the space station, but also the first private company to ever dock vessels in space.
SpaceX CEO tweeted “Dragon spaceship and Falcon 9 rocket just completed final assembly at Cape Canaveral” and posted the picture you see below on the 25th. The picture shows the Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon cargo module. The Falcon 9 and the Dragon are America’s hopes for a future in space, as they will eventually be ferrying people to the ISS.
Dragon spaceship & Falcon 9 rocket final assembly at Cape Canaveral
The Dragon module won’t be carrying anything overly important to the station, as the flight is still meant mostly as a demonstration, rather than as an actual cargo mission.
A long time comingThis launch will mark America’s first dockable space craft since the Shuttle was first launched in 1981. If the mission is successful, SpaceX hopes to be ferrying astronauts to the station in as little as a few years at a much lower cost than with the Space Shuttle and with far fewer casualties.
As the shuttle has aged, it’s become increasingly clear that we needed a new launcher. However, most commercial ventures failed to create anything competitive, usually never even managing to launch a craft. And NASA’s launcher design was scuttled before it could ever be completed. Granted, though, NASA was expecting that program to be completed by the 2020’s.
Hope for the FutureIf the mission, which is expected to launch no later than March 20’th, succeeds, then America might just be competitive against an increasingly space-oriented China. With Robert Bigelow’s inflatable space station modules waiting in the wings, the Falcon 9 and manned Dragon capsule could bring another golden age of space development and habitation.
So, those of you waiting patiently (and not so patiently) for an actual move towards colonizing space, your time might finally be here.
NewScientist Photo by : SpaceX (twitter @elonmusk)