In the first of its kind, privately owned SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft has successfully returned from ISS. Musk is visibly elated. Watch the video
SpaceX is hogging the limelight right now. Its spaceship Dragon has just returned to Earth after visiting the International Space Station (ISS) and delivering some supplies to the crew stationed there. For American space enthusiasts, this is a great piece of news and they have followed it throughout the last fortnight.
American presence in the space has been on decline. For the last several years, the cash strapped American space organization NASA hasn’t been able to keep pace with space agencies in other parts of the world including Russia, China, Japan and Europe. Its ageing spaceship has been sent to a museum. Though the occasion was cheered by Americans, it was actually the end of American dream of dominating the space.
SpaceX is also a NASA venture. NASA is in the background and is supporting SpaceX fully both financially and in terms of expertise. SpaceX’s dragon capsule marks the beginning of what some say could be a new era in spaceflight, with private companies operating taxi services that could start taking people to orbit in just a few years. SpaceX and NASA have been working hard to make this launch happen — and that has meant navigating the cultural differences between this small, young startup and the huge veteran space agency.
Elon Musk, the internet billionaire who has designed the Dragon spacecraft is all praise for NASA. Long before Dragon was lifted into space by its Falcon 9 rocket, Musk had recognized the great role NASA was playing in his venture. “I feel very strongly that SpaceX would not have been able to get started, nor would we have made the progress that we have, without the help of NASA” said Musk.
Earlier today, the Dragon capsule returned to earth by landing in Pacific Ocean off Mexico, some 560 miles off Baja California. Attached to three large parachutes and carrying some 1400 kg of garbage from ISS, when it touched the water, it announced the arrival of SpaceX on the space scene in a big way. And no one could have been happier than musk. An elated Musk said “This really couldn’t have gone better…I’m overwhelmed with joy. It’s been 10 years, and to have it go so well is incredibly satisfying.”
But it was a small spaceship and Musk and his SpaceX have just taken baby step. To be recognized and taken seriously it will take much more efforts and bigger spacecrafts. But the beginning has been made and the efforts to excel are underway.