Tuesday, 22 May 2012

There's a Dragon in Space!

SpaceX has become a world-wide trending topic in the twitterverse with the triumphal launch of their Dragon module into space.  While the #dragonlaunch will come and pass like a proverbial moon-phase, the real victory is in the latest successful launch - being one of several meant to demonstrate the readiness of SpaceX as a viable option for supplying the International Space Station (ISS).  After some two days of tests and maneuvers we will all see the Dragon module successfully dock with the ISS (all going to plan), and in so doing boldly announce the arrival of commercial space-faring.

There are, of course, many private companies currently working on technologies that will support various commercial uses of space; Branson’s Virgin Galactic being probably the most well-publicised.  With all of that as noise in the background to tonight's successes, SpaceX has managed to ascend to a new level of legitimacy with the accomplishment of tonight’s launch.  

While it is not ‘history making’ in the same way we might think of Sputnik, Yari Gagarin, or NASA’s Moon Landing, it is most certainly representative of a paradigm shift in the potentials to be found in the exploitation of low Earth orbit.  If SpaceX manage to make a viable business out of supplying the ISS, delivering satellites and so forth they will be helping to pave the way to a fascinating future.  

As much as I might hesitate to suggest that tonight’s launch is a historical watershed moment, it is nonetheless, absolutely representative of a huge step forward in the legitimacy of commercial space flight.  Such steps forward will take us to those watershed and historically defining moments.  SpaceX is currently the vanguard of the commercial space future.  It is exciting; we are counting the measured steps by which we have the opportunity to assail a universe of future potentials.

To Elon Musk and all of SpaceX - congratulations on your successful launch tonight, and here’s hoping for many more such successes in the future!


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