Space

Space X Launch Successful, Plans to Dock With Space Station on Friday

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Early this morning, private space company Space X sent its Dragon capsule into orbit. On Friday, if all goes well, it will rendezvous with the International Space Station, thus kicking off a beautiful $1.6 billion, 12 mission friendship with NASA to ferry cargo back and forth in the post-Shuttle era. Eventually, that cargo may include astronauts as well.

On this mission the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket did carry some human cargo, actually. Exactly 308 people made the trip. They were already dead, though, which made the craft less crowded that it would otherwise be, and the mission somewhat lower risk. Among the ashes: Actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on the 1960s television series "Star Trek," and Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper.  

Reactions around the Web ranged from capitalistically ecstatic:

"I think this is an example of American entrepreneurship at its best," Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of NASA's commercial crew and cargo program, said in a briefing before the launch. 

To semi-grudging:

Admittedly, having seen the last two shuttle launches in person, we didn't know how we'd feel about watching this test of launch and rendezvous by Space Exploration Technologies, otherwise known as SpaceX. So we choose to keep our distance….SpaceX is neither future nor failure. Based on this recent launch, SpaceX is the necessary present.

If you're feeling the need to gird your loins for the new private space era now upon us, why not check out Reason's special space issue with all the answers.

NEXT: Reason.tv: Joel Stein on His "Stupid Quest for Masculinity"

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  1. How in the hell is SpaceX NOT the future? Private industry is creating a market for people who want to put themselves or others in space, THIS IS THE FUTURE YOU IDIOT.

    Man I hate puffington host.

    1. but what future? lifting fat 1%ers creamated remains then taking the trash out?

      wake me when these cos actually manufacture their own lift vehicles, run their own mission ops, the RD starts.

      1. Aw, Mary, it’s so cute when you try to think!

        I’m not even sure what any of that poorly punctuated crime against wordsmithing is supposed to mean, but gosh darnit, you’re trying!

        1. mary in the sky w diamonds!

          1. Thanks for your input, Mary.

        2. I would respond to her but I have no idea what she’s saying either.

          1. Authentic internet gibberish.

      2. The stupid remains strong within you, young padawan. You have the highest derpichlorian count yet seen.

        1. Wait. o3 is Mary? Jesus, I need to pay more attention when I’m traveling.
          And someone needs to put together a scorecard.

        2. that’s one mary of an observation there obie juans

  2. Hmm. Y’know, back in the day somebody got a thread locked for a discussion of spacedocking. And now they have posts about it.

    1. Note to those curious: DO NOT look up what “space docking” means in Urban Dictionary if you are eating now or plan to shortly.

      1. Wow, that was even worse than I expected.

        1. If the deviants around here tell you to not look something up, that’s a hint you should probably heed.

        2. You’ve been warned.

          Be ESPECIALLY careful if they start taunting you with, “Go ahead, you know you want to…”

      2. It’s lunch time, so thanks for the warning.

    2. Spacedocking reference FTW

      1. So my immediate questions all involve the etymology of the term.

        1. I believe you’ll find the reference here.

          1. Rusty trombone? How could I forget that? See, I definitely need to go back and rewatch The Aristocrats.

  3. Glad that the launch went well, and here’s hoping for a perfect mission. This is the beginning of a new era.

    In related news, SpaceX recently signed a deal with Bigelow (the space hotel or whoretel people, depending on who you’re talking to) and another country. More customers, more launches, more goodness.

  4. How much would that cost us if NASA kept it in-house?

    1. Orion/Ares cost many times more, and never flew.

      1. The names were cooler.

        1. A Falcon carried a Dragon into orbit. What’s not to like?

          1. Merlin engines, too. “Merlin” means “falcon.” There’s a whole Arthurian thing going, I guess.

            1. Sorry, ProL, I wish I were joking, but Dragon is indirectly named after the green herb.

              1. NTTAW Legalizing it.

              2. oh hm, puff the magic dragon is apparently not about marijuana. Well there you go.

                1. No idea, but with the Falcon/Merlin business, they may have branched out.

    2. The cost to design and build the mobile launch platform for Constellation was as much as SpaceX has spent on their entire Falcon 9 program.

      The mobile launch platform has not been used to date.

  5. What it looks like when you love your job. Compare these people with technical degrees and/or vocational skills to advanced puppetry/sociology degrees at Occupy.

    For me, the spontaneous cheering in the background when the solar arrays deploy was far more touching than employees chanting “Elon” when he comes out of mission control.

    1. I’ve got rocket job envy. How cool.

      1. Yeah, but when your minions get stuck on a tough technical problem, you can’t tell them “come on guys, this is not rocket science here”, because it is.

        1. That’s okay, because we have other traditional catchphrases to abuse them with. Like “Failure is not an option” or “You can either get this V-2 to London, or you can join the Jewish slaves downstairs.” Stuff like that.

        2. that’s what brain surgery is for. (and vice versa)

  6. Why are they lifting cremated remains to the ISS?
    Are the astronauts supposed to do the honors and throw them out the other airlock? Or are they going to evacuate the trash to space on the way back to earth?

    Or does the contract say they’ll take your ashes to orbit, but omit the part about not brining them back. “Lulz, you said you wanted your ashes launched into space, but you didn’t say they had to stay there! “

    1. They should just blow up another Space Shuttle – that did the cremating and scattering of ashes in one step.

      Too soon…..?

    2. The remains were actually in the 2nd stage. So they won’t be making the trip to the the ISS. The were just supposed to be distributed in space. Its just a way of making more money. (And SpaceX had a failure of a Falcon I that was supposed to do this, but it didn’t make orbit.)

      1. I think microsats are supposed to be carried into orbit on the second stage. You can buy a cubesat slot for like 10k or something.

        1. This is true, as a project I worked on in grad school is going to be launched this way.

  7. So we have the Space Choo Choo story.

    How soon do we get the requisite companion Home Brewing? story and gay (NTTAWWT) Comic Book For Adults? posts?

    The Dork Trifecta

  8. Geek is the new Sexy — Awesome!

  9. ….SpaceX is neither future nor failure.

    Huffpost is both future and failure. Kill yourself now.

  10. Quickly, Imperator Obama, subjugate the libertard SpaceXers with righteous regulations!

    1. Good luck regulating me once I leave low Earth orbit….

      1. And how are you going to leave orbit when they regulate you before you leave?

  11. Someday soon I’ll be able to open my space brewery.

    1. You just know that it’s going to turn out that space brew is going to be the best brew.

      “Ours is the superior. . .brew.”

      1. Well, it’ll be the only brew left standing…

        1. On second thought, I’ll allow robc to stay in business, as long as he pays me “asteroid protection”.

        2. “In space, no one can hear you burp.”

          1. But they can sure smell you fart.

      2. In grad school a friend and I tried to figure out how to get grant money to open a space brewery. We decided it might work to say we’re studying the effect of microgravity on fermentation, flocculation, and microorganisms in general. Then we started legitimately discussing the likely outcome of a top-fermenting yeast attempting to ferment in wort without a “top”.

        1. I dont think flocculation occurs in microgravity.

          I dont think the fermentation would be a problem with a spherical fermenter. It wouldnt matter where the blowoff tube was as pressure will be evenly distributed.

          Lack of flocculation would mean faster fermentation, but I think a centrifuge would be necessary to get the yeast to “drop”.

          1. Clearly, RD–in space–is necessary. There are some gigantic brewers out there that could commission multiple SpaceX missions to Bigelow inflatables dedicated to brewing experiments.

              1. R and D. WTF?

                I assumed you were simply referring to Red Dwarf.

            1. My point exactly. Sure, we can probably reason out what will happen, but we don’t know, and since yeast are actually living creatures you pretty much have to experiment to find out.

              1. Day of the Yeast! Mutated in beer-making experiments beyond the Van Allen Belt, intelligent killer yeast descend upon Earth, killing, killing, and killing again.

                1. I think before the mutant yeast kill you they probably make you eat your own excrement in revenge for millenia of alcohol-producing slavery.

                  1. slavery?

                    We feed them sugar, they CHOOSE to make alcohol for us as a gift.

                    1. robc, I never thought you’d bring out the white man’s burden style of argument. For shame!

                      You won’t even let them have oxygen!

              2. Is that like having to pass the bill to find out what’s in it?

          2. Flocculation is not dependent on a gravitational potential field. Settling of flocculated particles is. Can you say centrifuge? Or maybe it could be done with a magnetic or electric potential and special yeast genetically modified to concentrate iron within their cell walls.

      3. Poor me a bubble of that thar space brew, and pass the straws!

  12. Or, for just one trillion dollars (cue Dr. Evil)….

    Build the Enterprise!

    buildtheenterprise dot org

  13. kicking off a beautiful $1.6 billion, 12 mission friendship with NASA

    Is that $1.6 billion for all 12 missions?! Shit, get with the times, SpaceX! The grown-ups at NASA spent that much on 3 Shuttle missions in 2011.

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